On Thursday night—early Friday morning in Nepal—a massive avalanche swept down from Everest’s West Ridge and struck the climbing route between Base Camp and Camp 1. Dozens of climbers were on the route, carrying equipment and supplies up to to the higher camps. Early reports indicate at least 25 climbers were buried. As of Friday a.m. E.S.T., Nepal’s Ministry of Tourism had confirmed 12 dead. But reports from climbers on the mountain put the total number of fatalities at 16—the worst disaster in Everest’s history.
All the climbers killed were Sherpas working for various expeditions.
“I’m heartbroken,” said John Griber, a climber with Alpine Ascents International, who was in Base Camp at the time.
Two survivors were transported to Kathmandu. At least two others were being treated in the small village of Lukla, located between Kathmandu and Everest.
The accident, which took place at around 19,000 feet, near the top of the Khumbu Ice Fall, occurred in a particularly dangerous section of the route, where climbers must travel beneath a large serac—a hanging glacier—high above on Everest’s West Ridge. In 2012, Himalayan Experience, one of the largest outfitters on the mountain, was so concerned about the avalanche hazard that they aborted their climb all together and departed the mountain.
Outside will continue to report on this event as more details become available.