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Close Call On One Year Anniversary Of Everest Avalanche

It’s been one year since an avalanche on the Khumbu Icefall killed 16 Sherpa waiting for a ladder to be repaired. 

On the eve of the one year anniversary of the avalanche that took the lives of 16 Sherpa, ladders collapsed on route through the Khumbu Icefall, an eerie reminder of the tragedy in 2014. There was no climbing on Mount Everest on April 18 to respect those killed in last year’s avalanche.

Phil Crampton reported on Adrenaline Junkies, “This morning, six of our Sherpas, out of a total of 24 working for the Junkies this spring season, departed base camp at 3:30 a.m. for a load carry to camp one. Unfortunately, halfway up the icefall there was reportedly some collapsed ladders.

New 2015 Khumbu Icefall Route

“It seems as if the route needs to be re-routed to avoid a bottleneck at this section as many Sherpas reported that no ladders had collapsed, but the trail of 80 Sherpas came to a standstill. With this in mind, Dorjee Sherpa and myself instructed our Sherpas to descend immediately and drop their loads at crampon point. The icefall is definitely not a place to stand around and wait for ladders to be fixed. The Sherpas retunred to base camp with large smiles and even larger appetites.”

It was a broken ladder in 2014 that forced the Sherpa to drop their packs and wait for the ladder to be repaired. They were stopped directly under the serac when it collapsed.

Mount Everest 2015  Photo Vishal Gondal
Mount Everest 2015. Photo Vishal Gondal

This year, Sherpa were trained how to use avalanche transceivers and proper use on and around ladders, including the use of safety lines. Unfortunately, few rules are enforced and corners are cut. “Almost every team provides radios to members and Sherpas, this has not always been the case and there are still low-cost teams that cut this safety corner,” reported Alan Arnette on his blog.

“All teams have respected this anniversary and tomorrow, the Icefall Doctors will hopefully complete the task of placing ropes and ladders to camp one,” reported Crampton.

At a meeting on April 18, some of the western operators had a meeting and presented the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation in Kathmandu a petition asking to allow some helicopter flights to Camp One, to avoid the dangerous supply shuttles. Right now, only rescue flights are permitted above Base Camp.

There are nearly 700 climbers expected to attempt to reach the summit of Everest this year, making it one of the busiest years ever.

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