18 April 2014 -
An avalanche on Mount Everest early on Friday has killed at least 13 local
climbers and left several others injured in what is likely to prove one of the
most lethal accidents in recent history on the world's highest peak.
An official from the mountaineering division at the Nepalese tourism ministry
said 13 bodies had so far been recovered and ferried to base camp, while a
further three injured climbers were being taken to Kathmandu. As many as seven
climbers are still thought to be missing.
Reports suggest a massive avalanche low on the 29,000ft (8,848m) mountain
caught a work party of local sherpas as they prepared the classic South Col
route – followed by the peak's first ascensionists in 1953 – for fee-paying
Sherpa guides had gone early in the morning to fix the ropes which will guide
and safeguard hundreds of climbers when the avalanche hit them. Reports said
the accident had occurred between base camp and Camp 1 in the chaotic and
extremely dangerous ice fall. The ice fall is composed of a steep glacier
which fractures as it slides over cliffs, forming massive crevasses, and
sherpas have to find and maintain a new route through every year.
Tourism ministry spokesman Mohan Krishna Sapkota said the climbers were all
Nepalese and were preparing the route to the summit ahead of the summer
climbing season which kicks off later this month.
"The sherpa guides were carrying up equipment and other necessities for
climbers, when the disaster happened," Sapkota said.
Base camp is currently crowded as peak climbing season on Everest approaches.
A weather window in May allows the greatest chance of success on the mountain.
Last year, more than 500 climbers reached the summit of Everest. On 19 May,
around 150 climbed the last 915m to the peak within hours of each other,
causing lengthy delays as mountaineers queued to descend or ascend harder
Officials have cut mountaineering fees for many other peaks while requiring
each climber scaling Everest to bring back 8kg (17.6lbs) of rubbish in an
attempt to clean up the "roof of the world".
Last year, officials floated the idea of installing a ladder on the famous
Hillary Step, a crucial stretch of technical climbing at nearly 8,840m
(29,000ft) on Everest, named after its first climber, Sir Edmund Hillary.
Though such innovations are anathema to many purist climbers, some sherpas
welcome them. Entire communities in the otherwise poor Khumbu region of Nepal
depend on the mountaineering industry for their livelihoods.
Relations between international climbers and sherpa guides working on the
mountain are not always good. Authorities have also stationed soldiers and
police at Everest base camp following a brawl between commercial climbers and
Nepalese guides last year.
Source and full article: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/18/mount-everest-avalanche-climbers-dead
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