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Apr 172014
 

everest_2008_0667Click here for latest full update

Latest as of  Monday in Nepal

Alpine Ascents ends season. They had a large part in supporting the Joby Ogwyn attempt

  • Sherpas demand improved compensation after #Everest2014 tragedy or will stop climbing. source
  • Sherpas demand decision made by April 28.
  • NBC cancels Joby Ogwyn wingsuit jump off #Everest2014 link

—–

  • NO decisions have been made on closing Everest south for the season. I don’t expect it but the Nepal government could.
  • Individual teams are making their decision now. I expect a few to cancel but not many.
  • Individual climbers are making their decisions now. I expect 10% of the 350 non-Sherpa climbers to return home
  • I expect a fair number of Sherpa to stop climbing this season and forever now but not a huge amount.
  • There are over 600 working Sherpa on Everest for 2014
  • My deep and sincere condolences to all the families, friends and teammates of the fallen Sherpa
  • Heavy snow on Sunday, April 20 have stopped all search efforts
  • Reports have 17 dead as of today, more are missing. I expect the death count to increase.

This post from Robert Kay, climbing with Phil Crampton’s Altitude Junkies, provides one of the most succinct synopsis thus far:

We were on the trail that winds through camp (it’s about 3/4 mile from one end to the other).  I heard the glacier ice break loose and watched it fall into the icefall. Immediately knew we had a big problem.  We saw people coming down and they looked quite shocked.  At the same time rescuers headed up, including Phil and six of our Sherpa.  Unfortunately very little could be done as the victims were all buried deeply.

Helicopters arrived after about two hours and took the injured down to base camp in several trips.  They began carrying the dead using a long line.  Base camp became a very somber place.  Rumors were flying around and no one know for certain what was true or not.  Our team joined the Sherpa in their tent after dinner to show our support and respect.  We were there for several hours.

Things seem a bit more normal today. Although many of the other team’s Sherpa have gone home for a few days, our guys are staying here.  Phil says the place is safer now that the weak portion has fallen and I think he is right.  We will likely only have one rotation (into the ice fall) instead of the two that were originally scheduled which will  further lower our risk.

 

Donations:

 

Final update for a couple of days – Fund Established

It is after midnight on Everest now and hopefully everyone is resting as best they can. The tragic events of the last 24 hours are horrific in the mountaineering community by any standard. 13 are known to have lost their lives and another 3 are missing and will probably be presumed dead at some point, but the search continues tomorrow.

In a country where the per-capita income is $500/year, a Sherpa can make $5000 or  more working on Everest. This allows them to put their children through schools, build tea houses and pursue a better life for their families.

Many of the dead are related to other Everest Sherpas – fathers, sons, brothers, uncles, cousins. They are one large family. This is a human tragedy. This is a time to honor these men doing their jobs, working extraordinarily hard without complaint year after year. This is what they do.

I hope the Ministry of Tourism will take care of their families. I know the expedition companies will provide support. But in an event of such magnitude, a reaction of similar proportion is in oder by the Nepal government.

There will be no climbing for several days to honor the dead and to allow the route to be rebuilt. Those stranded in the Western Cwm are safe and will return to base camp as soon as the route is re-established.

IMG has announced they will continue their expedition but will understand if individuals choose to leave. I expect other expedition to follow suit but also many individual climbers to return home and a few expeditions to cancel altogether. But time is needed at this point.

The 2014 event was an ice release, (technically not an avalanche), not snow, and when the serac hovering off the west Shoulder of Everest collapsed, it sent house sized ice blocks all over the route. This is different than a traditional snow avalanche that can be triggered to release by explosives. With hanging ice it may stay there for decades or fall tomorrow, there is no way of knowing or predicting.

Thanks to Tim Ripple, Peak Freaks, for posting this video of a similar avalanche, but a bit lower, that occurred in 2009.

This will be a time of reflection and healing for everyone on Everest, even those on the north who are unaffected. Climbing is a tight community. If you have climbed long enough, you will know someone who falls.

My deep and sincere condolences to all the families, friends and teammates of the fallen Sherpa. I wish peace for those who fell yesterday and for their families for tomorrow.

The American Alpine Club has established a fund to help the Sherpa families. Click this link

Climb On!
Alan
Memories are Everything

Update and summary 6

Around 6:30 am, April 18th, an ice avalanche occurred off the West Shoulder of Everest hitting an area just below Camp 1 which is located at 19,500′ but near the top of the Icefall. The estimated altitude was 5800m or 19,038′.

At this point in the Everest season, only one commercial team, IMG’s Hybrid group, was in the Western CWM as they had climbed to Camp 1 the previous day. Many other teams with an estimated client base of 350 non-Sherpas had only recently arrived at EBC and were preparing to make the same climb today or tomorrow.Everest-2014-Avalanche

However, there were over 100 Sherpas from multiple teams ferrying loads to Camp 1 and Camp 2. Some had already completed their job and were returning to Everest Base Camp, some were still climbing higher. The avalanche released without warning and so suddenly that it was impossible to avoid the impact. The area of impact is heavily crevassed making rescues difficult.

An estimated 100 Sherpas or Westerners were estimated to be above the impact area and are cut-off from returning to base camp until a new route can be put in by the Icefall Doctors, a dedicated set of experts in route fixing within the Khumbu Icefall. This could take several days depending on the damage but these Sherpa are skilled and can do amazing work, plus they will get help for all the other Sherpa.

My best estimate is that the area that released was a large snow and ice serac located low on the West Shoulder of Everest. This serac has generated great concern for years and was one of the reasons Himex canceled their 2012 season for fear it would release. It has released three out of the last four years.

everest icefall popcorn

Khumbu Icefall Popcorn area in 2011

Immediately after the avalanche spray subsided, Sherpas searched the debris field and found 8 survivors. Eyewitnesses reported boots protruding through the snow. Many however were buried and their bodies recovered later. A person can suffocate within minutes when buried under heavy snow.

Avalanche beacons are rarely used by Everest climbers but have been used for several years by Himalayan Experience, aka Himex- Russell Brice. None of their Sherpas were involved in this incident so it is unclear if beacons would have aided in the recuse. Also, the search team must have had proper search equipment to use the beacons. This incident may change how teams view this valuable tool.

Helicopters were called in to take the bodies back to base camp using the long line technique where the body is attached to a line connected to the helicopter thus avoiding having the helicopter land on unstable terrain. Survivors were flown to Lukla or Kathmandu for further treatment.

http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Everest-Avalanche-Overview-.gifThe Sherpas worked for seven different expeditions including the team filming the planned wingsuit jump by Joby Ogwyn from the summit on May 11.

The recently announced safety improvements such as dual lines, government officials at base camp and trash collection had no impact on this tragedy.

As of this post, Friday, April 19, 9:00pm in Nepal, it is unclear what will be the impact of the remaining season. IMG has announced they will continue with their expedition. and that various teams have agreed to stay out of the Icefall for two days to allow the icefall doctors time to get back up and rebuild the climbing route.

I want to express my deepest condolences to the Sherpa families for this loss.

Alan

Update 5: 12 bodies recovered, 1 sighted but not recovered. 8 were rescued. 4 still missing. Around 25 were hit by the avalanche

Teams involved: Alpine Ascent, Summit Nepal, Himalayan Guides, Beuyl, and 5 from Shangr-la Shangri-la Nepal Trek

Occurred at 5800m, 19,028′ near top of Icefall

Bodies were transported to Everest Base Camp using long lines from helicopters. Injured were flown to Lukla or Kathmandu

13 Confirmed deaths, 3 missing

  1. Mingma Nuru Sherpa, , Shangrila Nepal on NBC Everest Expedition, died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  2. Dorji Sherpa, Shangrila Nepal on NBC Everest Expedition, died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  3. Ang Tshiri Sherpa, Shangrila Nepal on AAI Everest Expedition, died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  4. Nima Sherpa, Shangrila Nepal on AAI Everest Expedition,  died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  5. Phurba Ongyal Sherpa, Adventure Consultants, died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  6. Lakpa Tenjing Sherpa, Adventure Consultants, died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  7. Chhiring Ongchu Sherpa, Adventure Consultants, died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  8. Dorjee Khatri, Adventurist Everest, died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  9. Dorjee Sherpa, Adventurist Everest, died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  10. Phur Temba Sherpa, Adventurist Everest, died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  11. Pasang Karma Sherpa from Juving Solukhumbu, Jagged Globe,died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  12. Asman Tamang, Himalayan Ecstasy Lhotse,  died from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall

Missing (1 found, no name released)

  1. Tenzing Chottar Sherpa from Yelajung, Shangrila Nepal on AAI Everest Expedition,  from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  2. Ankaji Sherpa, Everest Chinese Dream Expedition, from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  3. Pem Tenji Sherpa, Everest Chinese Dream Expedition, from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall
  4. Ash Bahadur Gurung, Everest Chinese Dream Expedition,  from avalanche into Khumbu Icefall

source: Nepal Ministry of Tourism via Himalayan Times

Update 4:

Over 100 Sherpas and climbers trapped above avalanche. All climbing stopped on Everest. Helicopters bringing bodies back to base camp

Update 3: (updated)

Western teams reporting in:

  • IMG: 1 Sherpa hurt, not seriously, no members or guides
  • Peak Freaks: none involved
  • Alpine Ascents: some Sherpa involved, no members or guides
  • Adventure Consultants: some Sherpa involved, no members or guides
  • Altitude Junkies: none involved
  • Jagged Globe: 1 Sherpa died, 6 Sherpa involved, no members or guides
  • Himex: none involved
  • Tim Mosedale: none involved, not at base camp yet
  • Alpenglow: none involved, not at base camp yet
  • SummitClimb: none
  • RMI: none
  • Exploradus: none

Update 2: prepare for casualty count increasing: 13 died 3+ missing

Update 1: IMG reports 1 of their Sherpa slightly injured rest OK. Important as they were only western team in the area at the time, I believe.

Original Report

Early Friday morning, April 18th, an avalanche off the West Shoulder of Everest has buried climbers, mostly if not all were Sherpa, working to carry loads to Camps 1 and 2. At least two Sherpa are confirmed killed in avalanche and at least two have been rescued but many more are missing.

Reports of over 100 people, mainly Sherpa trapped in Western Cwm after avalanche damaged ladders in the Icefall

Remember that early report are always wrong so please consider this as an early report. However, I have eyewitness reports.

Rescue is underway and helicopters have been called. All climbing has stopped for the day.

The avalanche hit just below Camp 1 and above the top of the Khumbu Icefall according to eyewitness reports.

Gavin Turner climbing just below the avalanche reported this just now:

I am safely back at Base Camp.

I was climbing through the icefall this morning at about 6am when a very large avalanche struck a couple of hundred meters above us. I was with my incredible Sherpa, Phu Tsering. We watched the enormous avalanche cloud approach us and we were both covered in snow dust. After some initial concern, we knew we were safe and essentially out of harms way. Phu Tsering chanted some Buddhist prayers and made an offering to the mountain. The avalanche cloud covered us, but fortunately we were a couple of hundred meters under the impact zone.

There were many climbers and Sherpas above us, higher in the icefall, and an unknown number of them (reportedly all Sherpas) have been killed and injured. The rescue is underway and many Sherpas and westerners were rushing up the mountain to assist in the rescue as I was descending.

I am extremely grateful to be back at base camp and feel deeply saddened and shocked at the loss of life today.

My prayers are with all touched by this tragedy.

This area is known for avalanches. In 2010 an avalanche actually hit Camp 1, destroying many tents and causing some injuries. Camp 1 was moved further away from Everest and more towards Nuptse as a result. In 2012, an avalanche released off Nuptse and into the Western CWM near Camp 1 and one Sherpa cook was swept into a crevasse but was rescued and taken back to Kathmandu with back injuries. Another released in 2013 with no serious impact.

The most Sherpa killed on Everest thus far was in 1922 when an avalanche on the North Col killed 7 Sherpa. There have been 86 Sherpa deaths on Everest since 1922 with 27 deaths from avalanches and 12 from a collapse in the Khumbu Icefall.

The largest number of deaths in any single season was in 1996 when 15 died on both sides including 3 Sherpa. 8 died in one day on the South side on May 10/11.

I will update this post as I get reliable, confirmed information.

My sincere condolences to all the families, friends and teammates

Alan

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  185 Responses to “Everest 2014: Avalanche Near Camp 1-Sherpa Deaths:Update 9”

  1. Thank you, sir. The listing of those who died. I’ve an old friend from Khumba…very relieved I’ve not found his name. Perhaps, the climbing community will protect and compensate these guides in a manner appropriate to their services – in a manner they would compensate their own family for like risks.

  2. Heard alpine ascents is pulling their team. No surprise as it seems they were hit pretty hard . Any others this far Alan?

  3. Yes, Alan saw that. excellent post, thanks once again.

  4. Yes, Alan saw that. excellent post, thanks once again.

  5. Jennifer, another way to look at this is Everest has about a 3.8% death to summit ratio while K2 is 26%. For reference the deadliest is Annapurna at 35% and safest is Cho Oyu at 1.5 – per Himalayan Database.

  6. Thanks to all for your engaged comments on such a tragedy. I posted an update a few hours ago along with my thoughts on how to prevent such a tragedy in the future. This is a complex situation without easy answers. As usual in life, the spectrum of choices draw people to one end or the other (stop climbing altogether vs have climbers go independently, in this case) but each solution has it’s drawbacks with the Sherpa further hurt in many cases. I think most people agree with increasing insurance and pay for Sherpa but that will not prevent deaths. http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/?p=19069

  7. Steven Halton thank you for sharing your views. So sad.

  8. Going to message you and continue the debate privately Steve. Rest in peace Sherpa and god speed to all remaining on the mountain whatever path you may choose

  9. I was wondering whats happening on the Northern side? has the accident stopped climbing from that side as well?

  10. Shannon your bus analogy is garbage, I’ll explain why, in a bus you are all exposed to an equal risk of crashing, you depend on the bus drivers’ skills to not crash. On Everest, you pay Sherpas to take on a higher risk of death to make up for your lack of skill and strength. No-one can climb Everest without some form of Sherpa support and these guys are willing to take on the extra risk, the question is do you feel that it is morally acceptable? Should sherpas be exposed to higher risk, just so people can do something that they wouldn’t normally be capable of? I post this here because it is relevant and Alan usually has a balanced viewpoint. Seeing someone writing something which amounts to, ‘well at least the route is safer now, jolly good’, is something which is profoundly staggering at this stage in the game. IMHO of course.

  11. Giving to a fund is admirable, and many of us are quick to demonstrate our concern by doing so. To give from an informed base and to help maximize the bang for your bucks I’ve found it’s always prudent to ask such questions as: what happens to the loot, when will it be dispersed, on who’s say so, will there be an administrators fee, if so how much, how is that determined, who and on what basis will recipients get funds, is it one off payments or drip fed, is it tied to a cause such as school fees or free for their choice of use, will the funds be distributed privately or will others know who and how much went where (which can become problematic among recipients), what reporting of outflow can donors expect, will the fund have an end date or will it be holding funds, and if so for how long, will they be investing these funds to seed an ongoing giving stream. These are in no real order but are just some of the questions worth knowing, and then knowing these things can help funds get to where you as donor may want prefer them to go, and avoid waste or donor disappointment which tend to thwart fundraising efforts when next they are needed. So give generously, but give wisely, and thanks for giving ;)

  12. Steve everyone is entitled to an opinion but I don’t think this is the place. You put your life in the hands of a bus driver when you get on a bus, he probably earns a lower wage than you. Everything in life carries risk and everybody has a choice. Thoughts and prayers to all, thanks for the informative updates and overall adventures Allan

  13. What again is the reason that the route thru the Khumbu Ice Fall is mainly on the left side near the avalanche and serac dangers? Why not go more on the opposite (Lhotse) side? Too many crevasses?

    • Hi John, yes, the right (south) of the icefall is very crevassed plus is close to Nuptse with avi danger. This year, they took the route more to the center and away from the West Shoulder danger, but if a fall it too massive, it doesn’t matter where the route goes, sadly.

  14. Carlene, they know the risks as do we all, but this is a huge disaster (it was going to happen and how many die is irrelevant, they die every year). Would the Sherpa be there if we weren’t? Doubt it. They seem to be the airbag for the westerners, if we want to climb then shouldn’t we also be shouldering the same burden of risk? As I said up there (in rambling prose), I’m not judging anyone who wants a big adventure, it a brilliant thing to do, I’m in the middle of my own trip now, just curious about the morality of this. The quote above sums it up ‘further lower our risk’ ??? Come on dude, 17(?) dead and you’re worried about your risk coming down???? Or maybe I’m out of context.

  15. ‘We will likely only have one rotation (into the ice fall) instead of the two that were originally scheduled which will further lower our risk.’ – good for you Robert Kay.

    • Steven please remember that this post was primarily meant for his family. Robert has adopted Nepalese children and is one of the most devoted individuals I know to Nepal. We are in a dangerous time when almost any comment can be taken out of context or misunderstood.

  16. I have not said anything as this makes me so sad, however these folks know the risks correct? The Sherpas do not take this lightly. Such a beautiful placehas is tragic side. Thanks for keeping us informed.

  17. I am deeply saddened by all the deaths and injured Sherpa !

  18. A a brief update (#8) on #Everest2014. NO decision has been made to close Everest by govt. Don’t expect it. http://www.alanarnette.com/blog/2014/04/17/everest-2014-avalanche-near-camp-1-sherpa-deaths/

  19. Thank you for the updates. A most informative blog which is helpful in a time of such tragedy, and which stands head and shoulders above all the appalling media coverage.

  20. Hi Alan,

    Thank you so much for all of the updates – you truly are the “place to go”!

    My question is this – now that so many teams and have tragically lost Sherpa and guides – how do they recover that to move forward to finish the climb? Clearly, it seems, that you sign up with a reputable company because of the experience of the Sherpa and guides – so what happens when one team loses 5 Sherpa?

    I am not a climber but find the quest that those of you mountaineers have unbelievable and fascinating.

    Hoping that the remainder of the 2014 Everest Expedition is safe and successful for those who remain on the mountain.

    As you say… climb on!

  21. Alan, thank you for the updates. I feel so guilty sitting here in my warm home baking sugar cookies for Easter while there is so much suffering going on in Nepal and, no doubt, around the world. May everyone remember the great sacrifice the Sherpa have been making for many years to help Westerners reach their dreams on Everest. Now, they have made the ultimate sacrifice, I hope their families are not forgotten. Appreciate the funds that have been set up to assist. Keep up the good work . . . like a true ambassador of the mountains we all love so much.

  22. The everest expedition 2014 should be canceled soon in remembrance of the lost ones. Since, its the beginning of season, it created sadness among all the climbers.
    Everyone should discuss to end the expedition for 2014.

  23. It’s a very sad news and tragedy. The everest expedition 2014 should be canceled soon in remembrance of the lost ones. Since, its the beginning of season, it created sadness among all the climbers.
    Everyone should discuss to end the expedition for 2014.

  24. Thank you for this information, Alan, including the link to the fund. I made a contribution.

  25. So sad, my thoughts with the families and thanks for all helping hands

  26. We are devastated for these young and fearless men who are the proud Sherpa community. Their generosity and kindness are so special to any one who has climbed or trekked in Nepal.

  27. Deeply saddened by this news. The Sherpas are the Himalaya. My heart goes out to lives lost and their families and friends.

    I had my first visit to the area in November after decades of feeling I belonged there. I love the people and am donating to the AAC fund.

    Thank you for your report and updates.

  28. Wow I just heard the terrible news and had to come to you blog, Alan as I knew you would have the most accurate information on this tragedy. My thought are with the Sherpa family. So sad!

  29. Alan – thank you for your coverage of this heartbreaking event. Your site was the first I went to after seeing the story on CNN yesterday morning. I am curious about something you said and have not yet found an answer on Google. Why can an ice avalanche not be triggered by explosives? I would love some feedback if anyone wouldn’t mind answering!
    Thanks again Alan and Followers!

  30. I have been following your accounts since March and this is how I learned of the tragedy soon after it happened. Thank you so much for reporting and relaying 1st hand accounts. So sad for all the deaths and yes thank you for treating the news with respect for those lost.

  31. Thanks you Alan for the update. Your reporting is based on experience and a close connection to the people of Nepal. My heart goes out to all affected. Ankaji was a good friend and is survived by his wife and six children. He climbed with us in 2012, opening the route that year. As a multi year lead instructor at the Khumbu Climbing Center he shared his technical knowledge with many young aspiring guides.
    My heart goes out to the Sherpa community and the loss which reverberates through all.

    • Thank you Conrad, my sincere condolences to you and Ankaji’s family. Thank you for your work with the Khumbu Climbing Center in helping Sherpas climber safer.

  32. Thanks and thoughts to everyone in involved. Steve

  33. Alan what are your thoughts on this with respect to the morality of climbing on Everest these days. These guys are on the big hill taking all the risks so the westerners can satisfy there whims, maybe they should at least be taking on the same risks as these guys by lumping loads through the fall as the old siege guys on Bonington expeditions did. Not Messner fair means but slightly fairer this dumping all the risk on these boys who in all probability wouldn’t be anywhere near Everest if they could avoid it. Don’t get me wrong, I myself would love to climb this mountain, but at what cost? In this case a huge cost for the guys who passed away yesterday and their loved one’s. Please take this as a genuine query, I’m not being judgemental or Everest bashing in anyway shape or form, just curious to hear what others think. p.s I know they have been doing this since the early trips and have the free will to decide whether they indeed take this risk, I just wonder if it right to lump so much extra risk onto them while the clients are acclimatising on Lobuche East or (wtf) altitude tents at home before taking helicopters to basecamp

    • Steve,

      I share your feelings of unease about the balance of risk taken by sherpas and clients, particularly on Everest.

      I’m not so sure that the Westerners are there to satisfy their “whims” though. Yes, I guess some are there in search of bragging rights, and IMO those people are embarked on a lost cause – there’s very little in the way of bragging rights to be had on Everest these days. It has all been done by someone else already, and probably in better style. On the other hand, some people go there because it’s breathtakingly, stunningly beautiful and others go there because they want to challenge their own personal limits – physical and mental – and that tends the soul more than the ego. It’s a minor point, perhaps, but I don’t think we should assume that, in general, Westerners go to Everest for reasons that we can quite so lightly dismiss.

      That said, the present balance of risks mean that we get these benefits at the cost of Sherpas’ lives. Not that we actually have to point a gun and pull the trigger. More like Schroedinger’s cat – every westerner who goes up Everest with Sherpa support is killing (say) 3% of some Sherpa, somewhere, sometime. It’s our credit cards that are drawing them into harm’s way.

  34. Very sad news! All good thoughts may be with those Sherpa people!
    What seems strange , in a way , is that at 6 am , from theory, avalanches are rare, that’s why you have to climb early, not to let sun melt layers of snow, etc . This shows the increased risk , a maximum risk, for a job of few thousands dollars a year …. very sad.

  35. Dear Alan,
    Thanks for the latest update about this inhumane tragedy in Everest at the beginning of the climbing season. Read about the postpondment about further activities to mourn about the dead sherpas & to rebuild the damaged routes. It is really surprising to see any reaction from Nepali Government on this issue. Really it is very tragic & pathetic about these Sherpas who gave their lives at the cost of other climbers convenience for making the routes further & further. General Climbers ,do they bother about this heroic & sacrificial activities of the sherpas for very scanty money. Why not the Professional Teams sit together for discussions to take further precautionary measures for further climbing upwards. This serac threat over western shoulder is there for long time & Professional Team Guides should have taken cognizance of these accident prone areas beforehand.

  36. sending love and light, especially to my cousin up there….prayers are with you Gav

  37. Alan
    Is there a reason why they don’t shell the west sholder before climbing through the ice fall begins, like they do at ski resorts?
    RIP to all lost on the mountain. May peace be with their families.

    • You would have to ask an avalanche expert but this is a serac (hanging ice), not a snowfield so it would take a lot of charges. Plus this is very remote and doing the work would be perilous.

    • the khumbu ice fall (several kilometers long) moves about 4 to 7 ft and on some days more than 10 ft every day, shelling is an absolute improbability given the sheer scale of the mass of ice and snow involved.

    • You let off an explosive on a threatening serac. Nothing falls down. Does that mean that nothing’s now going to fall down (today, this week, fill the blank)? Or does it mean that you’ve just created or weakened a crack in the serac so it’s more likely to fall down (today, this week, fill the blank)? With such huge seracs, its impossible to say whether you’re increasing or decreasing the risk. Nobody understands the process of crack formation well enough.

      I’m not there, so it’s not really my business, but I would question the idea that since there has just been a big serac collapse, it reduces the risk of another one over any given period in the future.

      ==========================================

      I wonder how the Sherpas would feel about people blowing bits off Chomolungma. I’m told they feel bad about cutting steps in the snow.

  38. The American Alpine Club has established a fund to help the Sherpa families from #Everest2014 avalanche. http://americanalpineclub.org/p/sherpa-support-fund

  39. Our family members Steve Panozzo & Fleur Barlow from Australia were Climbing around this same time. Can you please confirm if those climbers that were required to stay and await for a new path to be created by the IceDoctors are safe? Thank you

    Our thoughts are with those passed and their families.

    • I’m sorry Stacy but I don’t know what team they are on. In general it is up to the guide service to release any information on specific individuals. I suggest their guide service for more information. I hope all is well.

  40. Thanks for keeping us all up to date

  41. Deeply saddened by this tragic news, my thoughts are with all the families affected

  42. Thank you for your invaluable and tireless efforts.

  43. Tragic …my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed, some of whom I may have met last year. Prayers also for the safety of all the people at EBC, It could not be done without the selfless Sherpa people.

  44. Hello Alan,

    thank you very much to keep us so well informed.
    A really tragedy.
    One of my best friends is also on the EBC.
    Whatever you may do “Keep yourself alive” (Queen)
    Bernard/Belgium

  45. Such a tragedy. Words fail me. My thoughts go out to the Sherpa and their families.

    Here’s a picture of the West Shoulder I took last year when trekking to BC. I think you can see the serac just above the icefall.

    http://tinypic.com/view.php?pic=2w7nvyp&s=8#.U1FSFMfzRbk

  46. Hi Alan,

    I don’t know. I would think with everything that happened in 2012 they would have pushed the route away from the west shoulder. Sure it was easier and faster but it just didn’t make for fun or safe climbing. Seems like a tragedy is always needed to learn.

    Any idea how to donate to their families?

    Bandar.
    IMG Hybrid 2012.

    • The Ministry is setting up a fund. The route cannot go much further south due to severe crevasses near Nuptse. That said, the route this year was more through the center and away from the West Shoulder than in previous years. This was a huge avalanche overtaking the entire upper Icefall so route location may have not mattered.

      • Dear Alan
        Thank you for writing about the tragedy so clearly. We spent the day in the UK trying to find out more information as I share my house with a sherpa family – an ex-summit-sherpa with Heaven knows how many nephews on the mountain today. Miraculously they all survived , though he knows most of the casualties, and two are from his daughter-in-law’s family. He is from Solu – Khari Khola, low but a village with a fantastic climbing tradition. You seem knowledgeable and sensitive about the sherpas, but so many climbers are unbelievably ignorant about who they are and what their lives are like. For example, the insurance paid out on the death of a sherpa just about covers the funeral expenses. Despite their relative poverty sherpa funerals are huge affairs lasting for days and involving feeding a multitude. Afterwards the wife and children are frequently left with nothing. A pity that everyone setting out to climb wasn’t made to read ‘The Sherpas of Nepal’ by von Furer Haimendorf. It’s amazing that so many think that ‘sherpa’ is a job, and not a distinct sino-Tibetan race with its own language and culture. Thanks again for the updates here – keep safe.

        • Janet,
          I agree with your comment on Alan’s appreciation of the Sherpas, based on my son Cian’sexperiences on Cho Oyo (2011) and Everest (2012). Thanks also for the reference to what seems like a good course of further nformation.

      • Please let us know when the fund is set up for us to donate to the families of those affected. I would like to donate and pass on this information to others.

  47. Dear Alan,

    My condolences to the families and friends of the Sherpas who died in this tragedy. Thank-you also for this account from the scene.

    I am a journalist with Reuters in New Delhi and would hope to talk to you tomorrow, Saturday, about how this happened and what could have been done to avoid this loss of life.

    Yours,

    Douglas Busvine

  48. Our Prayers and thoughts are with the Brave Sherpas and their families…

  49. Dreadful news…..sincere condolences to the friends, family and teammates of all the Sherpas involved :-(

  50. Woke up to this tragic news on CNN, immediately scrambled to your site for news. My condolences to the families of those brave guides.

  51. Just saw it on CNN and immediately prayed, I am following a team. My thoughts and prayers for the families of those brave, hard working guides, RIP.

  52. Wide angle Photo posted by news media follower (don’t know the validity) and not sure it shows much unless you have some previous image to compare to… https://twitter.com/AnthonyQuintano/status/457153304183992320/photo/1

    Many many blessings to the families of those lost. My heart hurts today.

  53. Very very sad news :( R.I.P. all the brave Sherpa

  54. This is a very tragic news. Already this season started with the death of one sherpa & one seriously injured. Today’s incident only magnifies the danger ahead. This year may prove to be the Blackest year even more perilous than 1996. I am anticipating this for a long time. I pray to almighty to the loss of lives & consolation for the bereaved family. The Global warming is already causing serious damages in the Karakoram Mountains last season. This season started very badly. Nepal Government & Nepal mOuntaineering Assosiation must take serious steps to reduce the number of climbers,otherwise nature will take its revenge very deerly.

    • Unless the 4 missing are found alive, this will be the deadliest season on Everest. And the frightening thing is the climbing has barely even begun.

      Alan: Thanks for getting the names up. A lot of websites report Sherpa deaths like so many head of cattle. You are pure class.

  55. Mirjam Beaudoin thanks!!!! glad to hear it. Sad for the other news.

  56. Gineth Soto, jay is ok

  57. Alan Arnette my friend is climbing with IMG he wrote me last night when happen. I glad he is ok of course. Any news from Jay Beaudoin ?

  58. Such sad news!

  59. Thanks Alan for the updates.

  60. This is worse than I initially realized.

  61. Prayers for all involved.

  62. I think your blog page is crashed. I was able to read it this morning but cant get back on it now. Just saw you on ABC News. They couldn’t have picked a better expert. Glad you’re not in the icefall this year.

  63. As soon as I heard the report on BBC news 1pm I went straight to your report. The news is dreadful and I am so sad for the Sherpa community. I will continue to watch for your reports which are the best world wide. I find it difficult to believe such a tragedy. I am not the Kate Smith already reported in but Kate from the UK and I will be following the sad reports closely. Cheers Kate

  64. Reading this almost made me sick. All the love in the world is being sent. <3

  65. sad day on everest,i dont think i would even try the south side,going through icefall is like russian roullette .Also thanks for your blog alan,best 1 out there

  66. So very sad. I have a love affair with Everest (from a distance), she is beautiful, but I have never forgotten how dangerous she can be. The Sherpa have always been my hero’s. Prayers are being sent from Northern Wisconsin, USA.

  67. Would they be wearing avalanche beacons?

    • Most Everest climbers and Sherpas do not wear beacons except for Himex (Russell Brice) and Altitude Junkies.

      • aa:

        it seems important to call out that this wasn’t an avalanche proper/per se — it was a massive serac fall. this is a distinction with a huge difference. avalanche awareness, education, and risk management skills are almost mainstream, so the public might think (mistakenly) that the “avalanche” would have been predictable exploiting such skills — and hence, that the victims and their expeditions were not using those avalanche skills and were somehow negligent or unskilled.

        the reality is that that massive serac could have cut at any moment without warning, upon anyone who was travelling underneath them; unlike avalanches, serac fall is wholly unpredictable — there is no science as to prediction of serac fall. it’s an unavoidable objective hazard of himalayan mountains (ie: the huge hanging serac on ama dablam), and nothing anyone could have done could have forecasted or predicted that serac fall at that time… (especially that early in the morning).

  68. Sad news, I jumped out of bed this am when I heard the news. Sympathies to the families. Thanks Alan for your excellent coverage. Keep us updated as the day goes on.

  69. Not what I wanted to see first thing this morning. So Sad. Prayers for all those families affected.

  70. Not what I wanted to see first thing this morning. So Sad. Prayers for all those families affected.

  71. Horrible. I had been thinking a lot abut the icefall the past few days, posting questions to Alan about ways to avoid it as much as possible. Yesterday I was imagining this exact scenario while reading this blog, only to wake this morning and find out it actually happened. With the conditions in Qatar and now this, Nepalese workers just can’t seem to catch a break this year.

  72. I was just checking your blog hours before this tragedy yesterday and got up this morning to this devastating news. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. Stay safe and humble. My deepest sympathies to the families of the lost men. Take good care, all.

  73. Sorry to hear about the deaths

  74. Love & Hope to all those involved and their families. Heartfelt condolences.

  75. New York Times and AP say just below Camp 2. Do we think this is wrong?

  76. Thoughts with all those affected…

  77. As per Himalayan Planet outfitters out of Kathmandu, there are 12 Sherpas dead.

  78. As per Himalayan Planet outfitters out of Kathmandu, there are 12 Sherpas dead.

  79. As per Himalayan Planet outfitters out of Kathmandu, there are 12 Sherpas dead.

  80. As per Himalayan Planet outfitters out of Kathmandu, there are 12 Sherpas dead.

  81. Do You know if any Himex sherpas are involved ?

  82. Thank you Alan for that correction on the video uploaded by me!

  83. That is terrible news

  84. I believe this is from 2011 and not today.

  85. very sad news

  86. There have been avi off Nuptse before, are we sure this is from today?

  87. there are many uploaded on you tube…this one seems to be true. Not sure.

  88. It’s up on you tube – uploaded 3 hours ago….

  89. who shot the video?

  90. Alan Arnette….and Matt Browne…..I thought so too….

  91. yes, looks like Nuptse, not West Shoulder

  92. I can’t believe it. So sad. The video looks like it came off Nuptse?

  93. Very sad news… Praying the death toll will be lesser…

  94. Thanks for keeping us informed Alan. This is such a tragic day for everyone.

  95. It’s getting sadder and sadder…

  96. So much snow this year.

  97. Over 100 Sherpas and climbers trapped above avalanche. All climbing stopped on Everest. Helicopters bringing bodies back to base camp

  98. this is so terribly sad… my thoughts go out to the families

  99. Death count now 13

  100. Such sad and shocking news, thoughts go to the Sherpas, their families and all involved in the rescue

  101. Sherpa are the real heroes of the mountain. Sending positive thoughts to everyone involved.

  102. this single lines writing with tears (Our prayers will be with them)

  103. Sadly, a lot involved. They have had a lot of snow this year.

  104. My prayers are with all involved in this tradgedy!

  105. Sad to start a climbing season on this note. Thank u for the update and will look forward for more. May all b safe!

  106. Thank you for bringing the witnessed information

  107. With a heavy heart I send prayers & condolences to all involved, especially the families of the victims …. such brave, hard-working people.

  108. Very sad… Thanks for the coverage, Alan .

  109. So sad to hear this and so early in the season too, very concerned for all involved

  110. :-( sorry to hear this… Thanks for keeping us updated Alan Arnette

  111. SAD news..RIP to that Sherpa.

  112. remember early news is often wrong but there are definitely deaths confirmed.

  113. Dear God! May their souls rest in a better place. Condolences to all their family!

  114. So very sorry. . .

  115. So very sorry. . .

  116. Prayers for all involved, sherpas, families, and climbers

  117. Let’s hope the rescuers find survivors. RIP the lost souls.

  118. Sad news. Thoughts and prayers to the families.

  119. Oh noooooo. Devastating. All thoughts to the Sherpas, climbers & families…

  120. Very bad for the start of the climbing season. Our prayers will be with them.

  121. at least 2 confirmed deaths, 2 rescued, rescues stilll underway

  122. Were the earlier reports incorrect or were 2 killed?

  123. IMG reports 1 Sherpa slightly injured rest OK. Important as they were only western team in the area at the time, I believe

  124. Thank you Alan for your report. Even though I know Bill is on the North side, I’ll be anxious to hear from him.

  125. Terrible news Alan. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families.

  126. Thank you Alan! As soon as I read the message from CNN I immediately went to your page for more info and will continue to do so. MT.Everest is, as you know, close to my heart and I am relieved that Nelson is not climbing this year. What a tragedy!

  127. Can’t fathom this kind of tragedy anywhere let alone so far from civilization.

  128. Deepest condolences to those who have tragically lost their lives. Thoughts are with their families and friends.

  129. Thank you, Alan for bringing us the most balanced and informed news on this tragedy. Keep up the good work.

  130. :( Very sad news indeed

  131. This is terrible news. Our thoughts are with the Sherpa and their families. Alan, thank you for informing us.