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
ebooksNow available in paperback
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

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin