Everest avalanche: 12 killed as snowslide crashes through Sherpa guides laying ropes in mountain's deadliest day

 

Asia Correspondent

Nepal's Sherpa community is confronting a dark tragedy after at least 12 guides were killed by an avalanche that swept down a climbing route on Mt Everest. A search was ongoing for at least three more guides still missing following the deadliest ever single day on the world's highest mountain.

Officials said the men were killed after the avalanche struck at around 6.30am on Friday as they were laying fixed ropes for other climbers. Rescue workers struggled to pull their bodies from mounds of snow and ice after they were struck just about Camp 2. Two men, who survived but suffered injuries, were lifted from the ice debris and flown by helicopter to Kathmandu.

A spokesman for Nepal's Tourism Ministry, Mohan Krishna Sapkota, told the AFP news agency that all the climbers involved were of Nepali origin and had been preparing the route ahead of the main spring climbing season, which starts in a matter of days.

"The sherpa guides were carrying up equipment and other necessities for climbers when the disaster happened," he said.

Friday's deaths easily surpassed the previous highest number of deaths on Everest. That occurred on May 11 1996 when eight foreign climbers were killed in bad weather, an event that featured in journalist Jon Krakauer's book Into Thin Air. Six Nepalese guides died in an avalanche in 1970.

Hundreds of foreign and local climbers have gathered at the base camp of Everest to prepare for attempts on the 29,035-foot mountain early next month when weather conditions become optimal and provide a small, brief window of opportunity for people to realise their ambitions. In preparation, teams of sherpas have been setting up fixed ropes that their clients, who pay many thousands of pounds to scale the peak, will attach themselves to while ascending the mountain.

The avalanche is said to have struck in an area situated at around 21,000ft and known as the "popcorn field". The area lies on the route towards the notorious Khumbu ice fall, an unavoidable passage which has claimed the lives of many climbers over the years.

In recent years the number of climbers in Everest, especially those with less experience, has soared and the Nepalese authorities have introduced  measures to try and better organise the flow. Officials have been dispatched to base camp to spend the climbing season there and address any problems

Yet impoverished Nepal is loathe to deter climbers from scaling the peak because of the permit fees they pay and the employment they provide for sherpas and other support members. So far, a total of 334 permits have been issued to foreign climbers for the year, up from 328 last year. There has even been talk of reducing the cose of permits to encourage yet more mountaineers.

Climbers have complained that overcrowding on the mountain, especially at crucial points such as the Hilary step, has led to increasing numbers of unnecessary deaths.

More than 4,000 climbers have scaled the summit since 1953, when it was first conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. Around 250 people have died doing so.

Friday's deaths underscore the perilous work undertaken by the sherpas, who lug ropes, tents and supplies for foreign climbers. It was reported that Kathmandu-based climbing company Himalayan Climbing Guides Nepal had confirmed two of their guides were among the dead and other employees were among those still missing.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz