What actually happened on April 18, 2014?
The serac collapsed into the Khumbu Ice-fall at the elevation of 5,900 m (19,375 ft), on the morning of April 18 at 6.30 am. The event triggered a massive avalanche, considered deadliest in its history, taking 13 innocent Sherpa lives with it. The 3 others died later during the treatment.
The avalanche hit them while they were busy preparing a route for climbing and carrying equipment to the higher altitude. Sherpas always move ahead of their clients, therefore, the chances of meeting accidents or other unforeseen events is always higher for them. This time, it were Sherpas who lost their lives. In 1996, 8 people were caught in a blizzard and died on Everest. The story which was exclusively covered by Outside’s journalist, Jon Krakauer. He adopted it in his bestselling book “Into Thin Air.”
Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) said that the area where the avalanche occurred is nicknamed the ‘popcorn field,’ which is just below Camp 2 at 21,000 feet.
Immediately after the event, rescue helicopters were sent to the spot and bodies were retrieved with those of injured. Other Sherpas, including climbers, immediately pulled out to the base camp.
~Everest Climbing Season~
The spring climbing season (March-May) is the busiest of the year. About 334 foreign climbers have been given permission to climb Everest this season alone, with an estimated 400 Sherpas in the team. Many climbers attempt climbing Everest during this small window, therefore, creating chaos and traffic jam in the region. Many have lost their lives during such turmoil in the past years.
Everest has always been the highlight of Nepalese Tourism. It attracts 400-500 climbers every year, bringing in piles of money. Loosing the business may cause huge losses to the authority, as well as to the Sherpa community, climbing agencies and other stakeholders.
As it seems, the Sherpas are currently protesting against Government’s move towards the whole situation, therefore, expeditions have no other options but to pull out of the region or wait till indecisive time.
Following the tragedy on Everest and the deaths of 16 Sherpas, the furious Sherpa community has demanded the Government to look into the matter and compensate fairly.
The government initially announced an immediate payment of $400 to the victims’ families to cover funeral costs. Many expeditions slated for Spring climbing have pulled out of the region entirely. It’s possible that climbing won’t take place this year on Everest until the authorities fulfills the demands of the Sherpa. Sherpas are demanding $10,000 in compensation for families of the victims and a doubling of insurance cover for climbing.
Is it Safe to trek the Everest Base Camp?
Indeed it is. The avalanche took place on Khumbu Ice-fall at the elevation of 5,900 meters, whereas, Everest base camp is located at 5,364 m (17,598 ft). The trekkers hike from Lukla up to Everest Base Camp. The accident site is clearly farther and higher from the trek route.
The Spring trek season on Everest is still on, which will continue for few more months. If you are considering to trek in the region or if you have already booked your trek this season, then do not worry, the trek is still on. You can still enjoy the trek and also pay respect to the dead heroes at Khumbu itself.