Last Friday, April 18th, 2014 at 6:30am an avalanche came down upon a group of 25 Sherpas who were crossing the Khumbu icefall in order to fix ropes on the route to Camp One. Sixteen of the Sherpa didn’t survive making it the single deadliest incident in Everest history.
Since this accident, many Sherpa has chosen not to climb this season. Many guide companies have called it quits for the season as well. There is a lot of confusion, a lot of death, and a lot of anger on Mt. Everest right now.
Jon Krakaur, famous for book about the tragic 1996 Everest season that saw 15 deaths titled “Into Thin Air”, has written an article about last Friday’s deadly avalanche and the aftermath. Eight of those deaths happened on one climb making it the most deadly accident in Everest history, until this year.
Below is an excerpt from today’s New Yorker article by Jon Krakauer.
by Jon Krakauer
For many years, the most lucrative commercial guiding operation on Mt. Everest has been a company called Himalayan Experience, or Himex, which is owned by a New Zealand mountaineer named Russell Brice. In the spring of 2012, more than a month into the climbing season, he became increasingly worried about a bulge of glacial ice three hundred yards wide that was frozen tenuously to Everest’s West Shoulder, hanging like a massive sword of Damocles directly over the main route up the Nepal side of the mountain. Brice’s clients (“members,” in the parlance of Himalayan mountaineering), Western guides, and Sherpas repeatedly had to climb beneath the threatening ice bulge as they moved up and down the mountain to acclimatize and establish a series of higher camps necessary for their summit assault. One day, Brice timed how long it took his head guide, Adrian Ballinger (“who is incredibly fast,” he wrote in the blog post excerpted below), to climb through the most hazardous terrain:
It took him 22 min from the beginning to the end of the danger zone. For the Sherpas carrying a heavy load it took 30 min and most of our members took between 45 min and one hour to walk underneath this dangerous cliff. In my opinion, this is far too long to be exposed to such a danger and when I see around 50 people moving underneath the cliff at one time, it scares me.
Read the full article here: