Deadly North Col Avalanche

Apr 26, 2010
Outside Magazine

Everest_2008_0667 There was a large avalanche near the North Col on Monday, Tibettime. Before going further, remember that breaking news of accidentsfrom Everest, especially from the north side, in almost every case isinaccurate. However, many teams are posting updates on their websitesto inform family members of the status of their climbers. I do not haveany direct links to the north so this is based on what the teams thereare posting.

The early reports from multiple teams are contradictory. Some say itwas a rock fall but most eyewitness are saying it was a large serac orcornice that collapsed near the fixed ropes.

The UK Telegraph is reporting that two climbers are missing and one is dead based on a text message from climber Josh Lewis.

The 7 Summits team has this first person report on their site plus several excellent photographs of the area:

At 2:30 p.m., Chinese time, a big avalanche came downfrom the North Col of Everest. In the opinion of witnesses, a snowcornice was broken on the crest above the North Col. At this time,about 100 people were on fixed ropes. The avalanche grazed the edge offixed ropes. According to an eyewitness, sirdar "7 Summits Club" MingmaGelu, they could see from the camp ABC that search and rescueoperations began.

More precise information in one hour: no member of the expedition 7Summits Club was next to these accident. According to preliminaryinformation, 2 Hungarian climbers fell under the avalanche. One of themhave taken already to the camp ABC, he is alive. The second climber hasnot yet been found.

Adventure Peaks has this report:

Everyone is safe and ok, Stu has telephoned in to informus that there was a serac collapse (like an avalanche) on the North colthis morning which apparently killed two people (Nationallityunconfirmed). Our groups at the time were safely in ABC.

These teams are reporting via their sites all the members are safe:WRET 6 Friends Chomolungma including a report on the Jordan Romeroteam, 7 Summits, Adventure Dynamics, Adventure Peaks. Remember thatmany teams have been having difficulty sending dispatches.

These types of incidents while, not uncommon on the north, happenmore on the south side in the Khumbu Icefall. However, there have beenmultiple observations that this year is quite dry on Everest. Recentlythere have been extremely high winds on the North so all this couldhave conspired to create the unstable ice.

As for the rest of the season, usually major collapse such as thisis a mixed message. With a major danger point removed, the routebecomes slightly safer but there may still be other features about tofail. The route may need to be re-routed to avoid these.

Obviously we all send our thoughts to those involved, their families, teammates  and friends.

Note, the image in this post is from an avalanche in the KhumbuIcefall in 2008 and not the one being currently reported on the NorthCol.

I will post an update when there is more news.

Climb On!


Arnette is a speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer's Advocate. You can read more on his site

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