Mt. Everest Claims At Least 12 Lives In Peak’s Single Deadliest Avalanche
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
An avalanche on the world’s highest mountain has killed at least 12 local guides during a climb on Friday. The snowpack release also injured three and several others are still unaccounted for in what is being the single deadliest accident on Mt. Everest, according to local officials.
A groups of 50 climbers, mostly Nepali Sherpas, were hit by an avalanche at more than 20,000 feet, according to Tilak Ram Pandey, a spokesperson for Nepal’s mountaineering department of tourism industry.
A statement on the NepalMountaineering.org website said this morning that at least 14 have been killed after an avalanche hit Khubucje area, near Camp I at 6:30 a.m. Friday (local time). The statement added that some victims were rescued and brought down to base camp and further rescue attempts were being conducted.
The avalanche occurred as Sherpa guides were headed to Camp I to fix ropes and to ready the route for climbers of different expedition teams.
Lakpa Sherpa, a local medical staffer, said at least five people injured in the avalanche are now safe at base camp and being treated for their injuries.
The identities of the dead and those still missing have not been disclosed, Mohan Krishna Sapkota, a spokesman for the tourism ministry, said in a statement to BBC, adding that search and rescue operations were under way and that helicopters have been dispatched to the region.
The accident comes during the peak climbing season on Everest. During the months of April and May hundreds of climbers converge on base camp in the hope of scaling the summit of the world’s highest and most dangerous peak. This year, there were no less than three hundred climbers waiting at base camp to get their shot at glory, with as many as 400 Sherpas waiting to guide them.
More than 3,000 climbers have scaled Mt. Everest since 1953, when Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first reached the summit. Since then, hundreds of people have also died attempting to reach the world’s highest peak.
But only a handful of climbers actually make it to the top of Mt. Everest each year. The number topped 100 for the first time in 1993 and only about 500 have conquered the summit by 2012, reports CNN.
Before Friday’s avalanche, the deadliest single day on the mountain was during an accident on May 11, 1996 when eight climbers disappeared during a huge mountain storm. Their tragic story was chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s bestselling novel “Into Thin Air.”
Previously, six Nepalese guides lost their lives in an avalanche in 1970.