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Terrifying Footage of Mount Everest Cornice Accident Aftermath

As Everest climbers return to a Wi-Fi connection in Base Camp, they post pictures of their summits — and of crowds, chaos, scary moments, and, unfortunately, death.
Climber climbing to safety after May 21, 2024 cornice collapse on Mt. Everest(Photo/Vinayak Malla)
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This article was originally published on ExplorersWeb.

IFMGA guide Vinayak Malla summited Mount Everest at 6 a.m. on the morning of May 21, the busiest summit day, with Elite Exped clients. On their way back, they videoed just after the snow cornice couldn’t stand the weight of hundreds of climbers and gave in, dragging a number of people into the void.

The video doesn’t show the actual collapse but its aftermath. Still, the footage is mind-blowing for its clarity and for depicting the mad sight of an overcrowded summit ridge. Dozens of climbers inch across a narrow snow arete, which couldn’t bear the weight and eventually crumbled. The image above shows a climber desperately trying to lift himself back to safety after the collapse.

“The Everest summit ridge felt different than my previous experiences on the mountain,” Malla said. “There was soft snow, many cornices, and rocky sections covered in snow. Even the weather station was half buried in snow.”

Climbers jam the narrow snow ridge to step on the summit of Everest
Dozens of climbers shuffle along meters from the summit of Everest; (photo/screenshot from video by Vanayak Malla)

Sudden Disaster on Mount Everest

“After summiting, we crossed the Hillary Step. Traffic was moving slowly. Then suddenly, a cornice collapsed a few meters ahead of us,” Malla recalled. He and his clients were on another section of that cornice, which happened not to give way.

Malla’s video shows the broken cornice section and climbers clinging to the fixed ropes and desperately trying to lift themselves back to safe ground.

“As the cornice collapsed, four climbers nearly perished yet were clipped onto the rope and self-rescued,” Malla wrote. “Sadly, two climbers are still missing.”

Then Malla recounts how he saved the situation — and perhaps many lives. “We tried to traverse, but it was impossible due to the traffic on the fixed line. Many climbers were stuck in traffic, and oxygen was running low. I was able to start breaking a new route for the descending traffic to begin moving slowly once again.”

The situation resembles other mountain accidents where a broken rope leaves climbers trapped behind. Something similar occurred on Broad Peak in 2021 when the fixed rope on a ridge broke, stranding Russian climber Nastya Runova and, a little later, Korean Kim HongBin.

Above them, over a dozen climbers waited, not skilled enough to progress across that section without ropes. Several suffered from frostbite. Runova was rescued, but Kim died.

However, the numbers on Everest’s summit ridge on May 21 were larger than on any other mountain.

Another Victim

Meanwhile, another climber is confirmed dead on Mount Everest.

“Binod Babu Bastakoti from Pokhara died at around 8,300m, just above Camp 4, after he suffered from illness while descending from the summit [on Wednesday, May 22],” Narbin Magar of Booking Own Pvt. Ltd told The Himalayan Times.

Bastakoti is the sixth fatality on Everest this season; the seventh, if we include Gabriel Tabara of Romania, who died at Camp 3 but whose goal was Lhotse.

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