It’s a tragic day in Nepal, where a 7.9 magnitude earthquake has leveled untold buildings in Kathmandu and other cities. More than 1,000 people are lost, early reports estimate.
High in the Himalaya the reverberations triggered landslides and avalanches, including a massive event at Mount Everest base camp.
Reported by media around the globe, a large ice avalanche came off Everest’s neighboring peak, Mount Pumori, a 23,494-foot pyramid that towers above base camp.
The earthquake and avalanche sent debris into camp, destroying portions of the tent city situated at 17,500 feet on the south side of the mountain.
From sources including Reuters News it appears at least 18 climbers have died, with many more injured. Rescue efforts are ongoing.
Despite past tragedies, including an avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall in April, 2014, which killed sixteen, the disaster this weekend could be the deadliest single day on the world’s highest peak if the reports are accurate.
Early reporting from Base Camp has confirmed the death of Dan Fredinburg, a Google executive on the Jagged Globe expedition team; the company posted a short note on Fredinburg. Another victim, Dr. Marisa Eve Girawong, was a member of Seattle-based Madison Mountaineering.
Higher on the mountain, climbers already heading toward the top are stranded. The route through the Khumbu Icefall has been destroyed. This leaves climbers without a safe route to get down.
On the north side of the mountain, where climbers form a second base camp accessed through China, the damage appears to be minimal.
Adrian Ballinger, owner of Alpenglow Expeditions, which is stationed on the north side, reported “More than 10 seconds shaking hard and lots of rock and ice fall [but] all our team ok.”
Base camp in Nepal, which is home to hundreds of mountaineers and Sherpas during the spring climbing season, has an “emergency room” in a tent run by the Himalayan Rescue Association (HRA).
But it was damaged in the avalanche; its supplies and personnel have been relocated to a new site, and the staff is currently aiding victims of the slide.
On its Facebook page the HRA posted: “Many of our friends in base camp have been seriously injured and killed.”
It’s a sad day for Nepal. We wish the best for the whole country as well as the climbers on the mountain. HRA ended its post with “Pray for Nepal, friends. Namaste.”