National Geographic : 2014 Nov
Everest Avalanche 65 0mi 5 0km 5 NG MAPS Everest Base Camp 17,290 ft 5,270 m Thamo Khunde Thame Phortse Gokyo Pangboche Tengboche Khumjung Samde Tarngga Marulung Hungmo Lukla Namche Bazar CH IN ANE PA L TIBET MAKALU- BARUN NATIONAL PARK SAGARMATHA N. P. SOLUKHUMBU DudhKosiBhoteKosi Lhotse 27,940 ft 8,516 m Pumori 23,507 ft 7,165 m Ama Dablam 22,493 ft 6,856 m Cho Oyu 26,906 ft 8,201 m Mt. Everest 29,035 ft 8,850 m helping the diggers. Two more corpses were freed from the ice, then another: Ang Tshiri, the cook. “Ang Tshiri was one of mine,” he said. At Base Camp, amid a flurry of reports and rumors, tense radio traffic, and panicked phone calls, nine doctors from various expeditions gathered at the Himalayan Rescue Association clinic tent. Five climbers who had been strafed by ice were able to walk out of the icefall and eventually were treated at the clinic for bruises and lacerations. Three others would have to be evacuated by helicopter. At the impact site Da- mian Benegas started counting casualties and at 9:09 a.m. radioed that there were at least ten dead. Two Simrik Air helicopters piloted by New Zealander Jason Laing and Nepali Sid- dhartha Gurung arrived at Base Camp. Laing picked up the American mountaineer Melissa Arnot, a paramedic with five Everest summits; she delivered medical supplies to the rescue op- eration at 10:05. By 10:49 four Sherpas had been the icefall that morning—33 climbing Sherpas, one cook, and two kitchen assistants. He finally reached Pasang Dorje, who told him maybe five or six Sherpas behind him were covered, and probably dead. “I was very, very nervous,” Pasang Dorje said. “I saw a Sherpa vomiting blood and a half-buried guy with his eyes all white, asking for water. We pulled him out. I don’t even know his name. Most of my friends were crying.” “I tried to hide my tears” S herpas and Western guides who had reached Camp I earlier headed down to help shortly after 7 a.m. At Base Camp, Lakpa Rita set off on the two-hour climb to the impact area with his brother Kami Rita, as did Horst, Ben Jones, Damian Benegas, and other guides. At Base Camp teams brought sleeping bags, shovels, and rescue equipment to the middle of the camp’s three helicopter pads. Joe Kluberton, the AAI Base Camp manager, along with Caroline Blaikie and Mike Roberts of Adventure Consultants, began coordinating radio traffic. The airwaves were full of chatter as Sherpas confirmed their status. The number of dead was still unclear. “We started to meet a lot of wounded Sherpas coming down,” Lakpa Rita recalled. “They had bruises and blood on their heads. Some were limping from where they’d been hit by blocks of ice. I offered to help them, but they said, ‘The guys up higher need more help than us.’ I knew chances were nil anyone who had been buried would still be alive—they might have had 15 minutes at most.” It took Lakpa Rita almost an hour to get from the Football Field to the impact zone. Blood on the snow marked the area. He found about 50 Sherpas at the site, some digging with steel spades, some hacking at the debris with ice ham- mers, some sitting numbly in shock and grief. Four bodies had been placed under a gray tent fly. At the sight of the shrouded forms, Lakpa Rita sat and wept. “I tried to hide my tears from my Sherpa team, but I couldn’t keep them in,” he said. When he could look under the tent fly, he found that none of the dead were wearing the jackets AAI had issued its staff, and he set about AREA ENLARGED INDIA Kathmandu HIMALA YA NEPAL SHERPA HOMELAND Sherpas (Sharwa in their own lan- guage, meaning “people of the east”) are believed to have migrated from Tibet into the valleys near Mount Everest about 500 years ago. The Solukhumbu District includes Everest, Cho Oyu, Pumori, and Lhotse, among other giant peaks.