A deadly avalanche on Mount Everest today killed 12 people. Climbers and Sherpas are still missing as the busy season for ascending Mount Everest is just beginning. One survivor lays in an intensive care unit in a Katmandu hospital after risking his life as a Sherpa.
A Sherpa is a guide for the foreign climbers who come each year to try and reach the peak at 29, 028. Over 300 plus permits have been issued this year, granting those climbers permission to ascend Mount Everest. The big mountain is risky and many people over the years have tried their expertise to reach the top. The deadliest year for climbing Mount Everest was in 1996, when 15 people died. A book about the deadly accident, by Jon Krakauer, chronicles the tragic story back in 1996. It later became a best seller, known as Into Thin Air.
The deadly avalanche on Mount Everest today comes just before the popular climbing season. The two week period for ascending to the 29, 028 feet peak is May 15-30th. Guides and climbers had been prepping the area, readying the route with ropes and adjusting to the air and climate when the avalanche hit. The world’s highest mountain is Mount Everest and climbers come in April to get ready. These climbers are mostly foreign so ethnic Sherpas become their guides. Spring is the busiest time.
For the 334 climbers issued permits or permission to climb this year, there is an estimated 400 Sherpas to help them. These Sherpa guides go first, so in essence they are exposed to an increased risk. It use to be only five or so climbers made it to the top but by 1993, more than 100 made it. In 2004, 300 made it and in 2012, 500 climbers made it to the peak.
Elizabeth Hawley is an expert on Himalayan climbing and gave a phone interview today, claiming this to be the worst avalanche in Mount Everest history. The government of Nepal sent out four helicopters in a search and rescue mission amidst heavy snow fall.
At least 200 people have died attempting to climb Mount Everest since Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay reached the peak in 1953.
Every April and May the tourism industry gets a huge boost during the season of climbing Mount Everest. Thousands have reached the summit. The Nepalese government sent security personnel to the base camp at 17,000 to assist in the rescue operation. The area where the avalanche hit today is known as the “popcorn field” because it has chunks of ice that bulge out. They were able to retrieve 12 bodies from below the snow and continued to search for four other missing guides. The severely injured were airlifted to a Katmandu hospital.
One rescued Sherpa guide told authorities they set out early to fix ropes higher up but became delayed due to the unsteadiness of the path. Due to the influx of climbers, Nepal had set up more personnel to assist the climbers and any possible rescue missions that might be needed. The recently deadly avalanche on Mount Everest claimed the lives of 12 people.
By Kim Troike