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  Mt. Everest 2005: Waldemar Niclevicz: Avalanche destroys Camp 1: three big groups, made by a total of around a hundred Sherpas, descended the Icefall with the wounded.


Photo Waldemar Niclevicz

 

05/04/2005

44th day of the 10 Years of Brazil on Everest Expedition

Base Camp (5,400 m)

Dear Friends!

I would like to start today's update, and finish it, the way the day started, with a blue sky, beautiful mountains everywhere, a really nice environment, but that only lasted a few hours.

Now, 18h01, the weather here in base camp is really bad, it is all completely clouded (since 15 hours), snowing and there is a great doubt about what happened in higher altitudes.

Around 05h15, during daybreak, a big avalanche fell from the West Ridge of Everest and destroyed camp 1 almost completely.  The news came to base camp almost immediately through the radio of expeditions who had members up there, but even now by the end of the day, there are a lot of doubts about the consequences of the avalanche.

The location of camp 1, which is between 6,050m and 6,100m of altitude, is very exposed to avalanches which fall from a big serac suspended on the top of the West Ridge of Everest.  Irivan and I, who climbed Lhotse in 2002, had a lot of problems with the avalanches from that serac.  The first time our tent was buried by the avalanche, so we moved our camp around 150 m farther from the West Ridge, in the direction of Nuptse, thinking we would be safe.  After a week, to our surprise, a new avalanche made our tent disappear.  Inside the tent there were two bottles of oxygen, a hundred meters of ropes, a stove and some gas cartridges, absolutely nothing, even the tent, was found, everything was swept away by the force of the movement provoked by the avalanche.  ("Serac" is how the front of a suspended glacier is called, ready to fall down).

After the bad experience of 2002, Irivan and I came this year to Everest ready to leave the least possible things in camp 1.  In our first climb, we spent just one night there, the next day we unmounted our tent and we went a little higher (just three hours walking), to the location of camp 2 (6,400m).  In the next climbs we have gone directly to camp 2.

I know there were around 40 tents installed in camp 2, the information coming here says that practically all were destroyed by the avalanche.  The only intact camp is the one of the Iranians, because around seven tents were closer to the Nuptse side than to the West Ridge, where the avalanche fell. 

Some climbers were surprised by the avalanche in camp 1 when they were asleep. Around seven of them had mild injuries, and two had serious injuries. The experienced guide Willi Benegas (Argentinean), chief of the Mountain Madness team, who had been to the summit of Everest four times, had one of the most important roles of the coordination of the rescues, around 8 in the morning he was running by the base camp looking for a stretcher, when he found one he climbed quickly the Icefall.

During the entire day, I watched with attention that three big groups, made by a total of around a hundred Sherpas, descended the Icefall with the wounded.

Watch the picture of camp 1 at the top of this update, before it was hit by the big avalanche.  It likely that all the tents in the picture have been destroyed by the avalanche coming down from the West Ridge of Everest, that is seen in the right side of the picture.

In the picture in the bottom, one of the three rescue groups made by Sherpas, carry down a wounded person that is being transported in a stretcher, through the Icefall.

I have just got a meteorology alert from www.everestnews.com, the forecast is strong snowfalls over Everest for the next hours!!!!  So we will continue here in base camp waiting for a better weather.

Patience, is the big virtue of climbers, now and forever!

A hug.

Waldemar Niclevicz

Translated from Portuguese by Jorge Rivera

Dispatches

 

 

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