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Everest avalanche update: Americans, Polish, Canadian, Sherpa injured
image story

May 18, 2005 18: 35 EST
Previously published May 4, 2005 14: 49 EST

Alpine Ascents guide Vern Tejas has just reported some more details on the avalanche that struck Camp 1 earlier this morning. Several climbers from Canada, the U.S., and Poland have escaped with moderate wounds and probably the scariest experience of their lives. The main concerns are with a Sherpa, whose status may be critical.

This is Vern’s latest:

“At 5:15 this morning a huge avalanche ripped through Camp I. A massive chunk of ice broke loose from a hanging glacier 5,000 feet above the camp, on the West ridge of Everest. Terror in the form of boulders of rock and ice shredded the twenty so tents that comprised the camp. Fortunately few climbers were in residence. An American team bore the brunt of the trauma with one Sherpa critically injured.”

New Yorkers blown away; Iranians didn’t notice

“Three from New York got raked across the glacier as they tried to flee from their tent. They were lucky to escape with lacerations, contusions, bruised liver, a broken ankle and their lives. A French Canadian and a solo Polish climber got pummeled but survived. Ironically the whole Iranian Women’s team were spared the destruction by camping slightly farther away from the main camp. They left for camp two without even knowing that the rest of camp was flattened under feet of snow.”

Joint rescue effort

”We were lucky none of our team were hurt. Half of our team were already back in base camp recovering from our acclimatization up to camp 3 (23,700ft or 7,222m). Our second half was descending to Camp I, just two hours after the accident. Willie and Dave split the scene in two and each triaged the survivors in their sector. They organized medical aid and packaging and transport of patients. Team members comforted stricken climbers with food and drink."

Borrowed crampons to scape

"The team members at base camp sent their crampons and harnesses up with our Sherpa team to replace those lost under snows above. Our Sherpas hand carried the litter through the serious terrain of the Khumbu Icefall. And our very own Base camp manager, Ellie, orchestrated the whole rescue over our new radio system. Many other teams, guides, and Sherpas contributed to the effort. All worked together well and by mid afternoon all survivors were in the base camp medical clinic.”

A huge avalanche struck Camp 1 on Everest's south side route early this morning. It began when a big chunk of a serac fell from Everest's West Shoulder and hit the glacier at the left side of the tents in C1. Seven people suffered injuries. Luckily, no fatalities have been reported!

The snow and the massive wave destroyed most of the tents there (between 40 and 60, depending on the sources). After the avalanche, only 5 tents remained undamaged.

Image of C1’s destroyed tents this morning courtesy of Leipzig expedition. Compiled image of BC clinic courtesy of Mallorca al Alt de Tot expedition

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