Everest 2013: Avalanche into the Western Cwm

2008 Everest Icefall Avalanche
2008 Everest Icefall Avalanche

An avalanche was reported off Everest’s West Shoulder onto the Western Cwm by Chris Jensen Burke climbing with Himalayan Ascent. No injuries were reported. Chris’ post is a nice recap of her climb to C1 and tagging C2. It is the Blog of the Day.

The west ridge of Everest avalanched about 2 hours or so ago sweeping right across the Western Cwm to the Nuptse side between C1 and C2.  We are relieved to say that reports indicate that there are NO casualties.  Warren and Margaret and our Sherpa team had already left C1 to descend just before the avalanche and are on their way down through the Khumbu Icefall back to EBC – we should see them back here within a couple of hours.

This is somewhat normal as avalanches have occurred in this area multiple times over the previous years. 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.

Last year, > a small avalanche hit Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face again destroying tents. It was very fortunate that few people were there at the time or it could have been much, much worse. Avalanches are common off the Pass above Base Camp often hitting Base Camp with the wind and debris blast.

The real concern at this point for the climbers is the amount of snow deposited on Everest this winter. There have been consistent reports of new snow and heavy winds since the Sherpas have arrived in late March.  It will be interesting to see the condition of the Lhotse Face given the high winds which in 2012 swept away all the snow leaving a layer of hard ice and exposed rock. But it is still very early in the season so a lot can change.

Chris also reported visiting with Ueli Steck and having helicopters flying overhead filming them. Steck and Simon Moro report spending the night at Camp 2 in the Western Cwm as part of their acclimatization process. They still have not announced their precise plans for a new route on the SW Face. Going to Camp 2 is a normal part of climb from the Nepal side.

Many teams are having their Puja and reviewing some basic skills before preparing for their first rotation. It is common for everyone to go through a dress rehearsal with their 8000m boots, crampons and harness rigged for glacier travel at Base Camp before going into the Icefall for the real deal.

Nature Calling

OK, a common question is how do people go to the bathroom on Everest. Well, for inquiring minds, Chris gives us a woman’s perspective:

They were, however, situated a hygienic distance from our sleeping quarters and getting to them was a bit of a palaver. As one climber quipped “We’ll have to repel to the bathroom!”. And when the distance and tricky terrain were combined with darkness and frigid temperatures only the hardiest soul would be game to visit them at night. The IMG kit list accordingly recommended bringing a pee bottle. But how are we women to get the pee into the bottle without the advantage of inbuilt apparatus, so to speak? Enter the pee funnel…

Working Together

The team leaders had their first meeting at EBC according to RMI’s Dave Hahn:

At three I went to the first meeting of team leaders.  It was something of a reunion since everybody there was an Everest repeat offender.  We tried to hammer out a few details about radio frequencies and placements for rescue gear, among other things.

They will meet several times throughout April and May. One of the reasons Everest works, is the cooperation of the independent commercial teams. I have witnessed this work many times listening to radio exchanges between the leaders working on rope fixing, carries, and rescues. When a tragedy occurs on Everest, there are no teams but a unified community that comes together.


Phil Crampton, of Altitude Junkies, posted a nice update on their Base Camp on the Tibet side along with good pictures. It is very, very different than the Nepal Base Camp located on the moving ice of the Khumbu Glacier.

Bob Kerr, climbing on the north with Adventure Peaks talked about their early days at Base Camp and shared some of the dangers of climbing Everest off the mountain:

I forgot to mention in yesterday’s blogs that one of our group got mauled by a dog in Thingri during our last night there. Thankfully its teeth did not puncture her skin and she did not need to abandon the expedition and return to Kathmandu. She is gradually feeling better and was strong on the hill today.

Tim Mosedale’s team is taking the long way around to EBC, not a bad thing for acclimatization and to see some different valleys. He posted this today:

Just a quick update … we arrived Dingboche (4,400m) yesterday and are now having a nice day resting, washing, showering and generally chilling. Watched Monty Python & The Holy Grail last night which is being requoted and re enacted today with much hilarity.

Over the years, it has become very common to bring a lot of DVDs to play on laptops. It helps to pass the time during downtimes and gives everyone something to talk about! One year, someone brought all the seasons of Lost and it provided daily entertainment for a month!

Climb On!
Memories are Everything

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5 thoughts on “Everest 2013: Avalanche into the Western Cwm

  1. Thank goodness that no one lost in the avalanche – I have been looking forward to reading this blog since the end of last season. Keep up the great work, Alan!!!

  2. Another great post Alan , thanks for the updates , and thanks for including the HImalayan Ascents team too into your blogs , great work guys , CLIMB SAFE.

  3. Alan – yes… in 2009 I brought the complete set of LOST on DVD to base camp. Our team made a habit of watching 1-2 episodes after dinner on my portable DVD player in the dining tent. We also brought the comedy Scrubs and watched that on the occasional afternoon. Of course nowadays I presume most folks are bringing loaded iPads which further broadens the options for passing time at base camp!


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