CAUTION: Video contains strong language and may offend some.
A dramatic video showing an avalanche sparked by the Nepal earthquake on April 25 slamming into Everest Base Camp has emerged.
The video was shot by German climber Jost Kobusch as he and team mates tried to run away from the path of the avalanche. The climbers barely had time to realise what was happening, and then a wall of white snow appeared to hit their camp site.
Fortunately, they didn’t get hit by the full force of the avalanche and after taking shelter in what looks like a tent, they emerged shaken but still alive.
Nepal’s mountaineering department said at least 18 people had been killed and 61 were injured in the avalanche, while an unknown number were still missing. Up to 100 mountaineers are believed to be stranded at the higher camps, called Camp 1 and Camp 2.
Rescue efforts for those stranded there had been hampered at first by poor weather. However, The Guardian reports that weather had improved by April 27 and rescue efforts could proceed.
Dozens of tents lie damaged after an avalanche plowed through Mount Everest base camp, killing at least 18 people following the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in Nepal on April 25. Photo: EPA/Azim Afif
Because of the altitude the small helicopters involved in the evacuation can only take two climbers at a time according to Alex Gavan, a Romanian mountaineer at Everest Base Camp. They are brought down to a clinic in the village of Pheriche.
While Kobusch and his friends had a lucky escape, others who took shelter in tents were not so lucky.
Jon Kedrowski, a mountaineer from Colorado who was at base camp when the quake struck, told National Geographic that a huge blast of air released by the avalanche accounted for many casualties.
“People who took refuge in tents turned out to be the unlucky ones … only a few feet away if a person hid behind a rock or an ice bank they escaped unharmed.
“People in tents were wrapped up in them, lifted by the force of the blast and then slammed down onto rocks, glacial moraine and ice on the glacier.” Kedrowski estimated that 40-50% of base camp, which is at 5,545m, had been destroyed.
The Guardian has also reported that Everest base camp “looked like it had been flattened by bomb”.
David Hamilton, 54, a Scotsman who has climbed Everest seven times, is the leader of Jagged Globe, a Sheffield-based adventure company that announced on Saturday that it had lost one of its team members, Dan Fredinburg, a senior Google executive.
He was just below base camp at the time and arrived where his camp had been to find a scene of utter devastation. “It looked [like] somebody had put a bomb in the middle of it. A huge area had just been completely wiped out.”
“There are ice cliffs on three sides and small bits fall off them every year. But this was on a completely different scale. It took the force of the earthquake to dislodge what must have been thousands of tonnes of rock and ice. It was not like anything anyone had ever seen before.”
Many climbers had seen the avalanche coming but only at the last minute. Some were able to run for it but others were caught out in the open when the blast of ice hit them and swept them 30 or 40 metres away.
Everest base camp is a popular destination for Malaysian trekkers. The Star2 Adventure and Outdoors section has run stories of trips there. One was written by our staff member Selena Ng, who braved the winter chill there. Another story was sent in by our regular contributor Chin Mee Poon.