There’s been a disaster on the world’s tallest peak.
Three Sherpa climbers were navigating the Khumbu Icefall on Mount Everest when a serac on the glacier above them collapsed. According to reports in The Himalayan Times and the website Everest Chronicle, the three Sherpas climbers were buried by the avalanche on Wednesday morning and were reported missing after a series of snowstorms in the region had created unstable snow conditions.
The following video shows the massive avalanche that occurred on Wednesday, which was shared by climber Lakpa T. Sherpa and uploaded to his Instagram account:
An aerial search was launched shortly after the avalanche happened but it was not successful. The climbers were nowhere to be found. An official with the Himalayan Rescue Association named Lakpa Norbu Sherpa told The Kathmandu Post that the chances of rescuing the three climbers are “very slim” and that the climbers are likely buried under dozens of feet of snow. The Sherpa community in Nepal is now mourning their deaths.
“They are buried five to six meters underneath. It’s not possible to launch a search mission because the risk of an avalanche is still ongoing,” Lakpa Norbu Sherpa told the Kathmandu Post. “We have traced the spot but it’s not possible to go there. The ice sheets are as big as houses.”
According to Outside Online, the three missing climbers are all veterans of Himalayan expeditions and have all summited Everest before. The Everest Chronicle reports that the missing men are Lakpa Rita Sherpa, Pemba Tenjing Sherpa, and Da Chhiri Sherpa. They were working for guiding company Nepal Trek and Expedition.
Every year in mid-April before Everest’s climbing season begins in May and early June, Sherpas trace a new route through the shifting ice, fixing ropes and laying ladder bridges across crevasses on the way to the summit, according to Outside Online. The Sherpas who do this have been dubbed the ”Icefall doctors,” and are often doing the most dangerous work on the mountain in preparation for the busy climbing season ahead. Many Icefall Doctors have been killed by avalanches and icefall while attempting to fix ropes in the Himalayas; it’s not the first time this has happened and, grimly, it will likely not be the last. Records shared by BBC News suggest that there have been just over 280 deaths on the mountain since 1900. 72 of these deaths have occurred since 2010.
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