A massive earthquake in Nepal triggered an avalanche on Mount Everest on Saturday, leaving at least 10 people dead on the mountain and several more injured. It is unclear if those who died were climbers or guides. The avalanche, according to Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, fell between near one of the mountain’s base camps.
Several of those who survived have been using blogs and social media to alert their loved ones that they’re okay, as well as to tell their stories, many of which are enough to send chills down one’s spine. Dutch climber Eric Arnold’s account was especially vivid. He tweeted a link to a blog post, describing his experience in Dutch.
“11:45 lying in my tent, it seems like someone is shaking my tent … I think it’s a joke. Not much time later, the shaking of the tent turns into shaking of the ground and it gets harder and harder. I realize — earthquake !! When I open my tent zipper, I see three sides of the gigantic avalanche come down (from different peaks). Behind me, from Lingtren and from Pumori. The avalanche from the Nuptse is gigantic. Not much later I realize that the base camp is getting hit. Arnold [fellow climber] beckons me to come to the mess tent. I run the 20 meters to the tent, midway through the avalanche skims me. I totally lost my sense of direction… Then I storm into the tent. My ears are filled to the brim with snow. In five seconds, I look like the abominable snowman. It is now an hour after the avalanche. Details about the victims, I do not know. Our plan to walk to the Pumori base camp, the site of a huge avalanche,will not turn out.”
Arnold later reported his efforts to help the injured, including his team’s Sherpa guide, who he said suffered a leg injury, which was treatable with painkillers. Not everyone was so lucky. Per Arnold’s second blog update:
“What we see is horrible. Everywhere there are tents, personal belongings and climbing gear. … A makeshift infirmary has been set up. Many victims have head injuries and are in bad shape. Around me I hear reports of 10 to 30 dead. A Japanese climber shows me horrible pictures on his phone. They make me shiver. Base camp now seems like a refugee camp. … I’m terrified that I’ll find a body.”
Saturday’s avalanche could end up being the deadliest in recent history. Last year, an avalanche on Everest left 16 Sherpa guides dead. Nepal marked the one year anniversary of that avalanche, the deadliest in history, just last week, the Telegraph reports.
The first picture is an avalanche heading towards Mount Everest base camp. The next 3 show the devastation & death:( pic.twitter.com/b1zFYJzHj6
— Kiran Kumar S (@KiranKS) April 25, 2015
Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake, which was centered 40 miles outside of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, caused widespread damage in the country, as well as in neighboring northern India. By late Saturday morning, the death toll had reached more than 900 people, and hundreds more filled hospitals seeking treatment for injuries.
As for the climbers still on Everest, their next worry after recovering avalanche survivors will be descending from the mountain. According to the Twitter account Northmen PK, which curates mountaineering and climbing news from European trekkers, Everest climbers are stuck on the mountain for now because of destroyed routes.