27th April , 2012 - Move to Camp II

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Camp1, Behind Nuptse face

Camp I, Behind Nuptse face 

trekking in nepal

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trekking in nepal
27th April, 2012 - Move to Camp II

We wanted to stay a night at camp3 to acclimatize better and come back to basecamp for rest before final summit attempt. Camp3 is located on steep slopes of Lohtse face. The plan was to start from basecamp and reach camp2 in one day, stay two nights at camp2 and then reach camp3. Since base camp to Camp2 is more than eight hours stretch we started early morning at 300Hrs. It was very important to pass through Khumbu as early as possible. We were carrying all the camping gears hence we took around five hours to reach camp1. I was feeling very strong today morning and was ahead of the entire team along with Chetan and Rinji Sherpa. We decided to take break at Camp1 and wait for others. Until all members reached camp1, we had some energy bars and drinks.

Soon we started feeling cold because of the wind, hence I suggested Chetan, I and Mama (Umesh Zirpe) should start slowly till other members took their rest. Then Rinji joined. From camp1 we headed towards Nuptse corner. After crossing a couple of humps Rinji was leading the way and then I and Chetan and Mama followed. Rinji got over another hump. I was half way through and stopped for a breath. Soon I heard a cracking sound from Nupste face. It was an avalanche. Since we reached base camp, we have seen hundreds of avalanches from Lhola face, Pumori and Nuptse face. Hence it was not a new thing for us. I was least bothered at that moment may be also because of the tiredness from past more than five hours climb. I was not aware of what is going to happen to us in next few moments.

I saw Rinji running ahead. He threw his rucksack ahead of a tent and lay beside it. I was surprised and again looked at the Nupse face. Oh God! The avalanche was rushing towards us with tremendous pace. Before I realized anything I found myself on the ground alongside of Rinji. In next moment the avalanche reached us. The snow was flowing with tremendous speed which threw off the tent in air. Now we were directly hit by snow blast. Few moments past by… we were like into the clouds, dense cloud of snow and ice particles. We held our breath to protect us from snow getting into our lungs. I had no idea what had happened to Mama and Chetan. After few moments Rinji got up. Still I couden’t see anything. Soon I realized my glacier glasses are covered by thick layer of snow. I shouted to get to know whether Mama and Chetan are OK. They replied OK. They calculated that they probably will not reach us before avalanche and hence ran down the hump. They sat down the hump holding each other. We were fully covered by the snow. Except few hits of small pieces of ice on our backs we were safe. Soon we had thought of our friends back at camp. I saw Ashish and Anand rushing towards us. They both had left camp1 after us and were hit by the avalanche on their way. Fortunately they were also OK. What about others?

Climber covered with powder snow after avalanche
Climber covered with powder snow after avalanche 

In a few moments we saw Bhushan and Kami Sherpa waving hands towards us indicating everybody is safe. They all had taken shelter inside tents at Camp1. We all were very fortunate that we had survived the biggest avalanche in our lives. The scene after the avalanche was very miserable. More than hundreds of tents were crushed by the avalanche. Few of them were blown into the air and settled over few hundred meters up on the Nuptse face. We all were covered by thick layer of powder snow. Soon strong wind started flowing, blowing all the powder snow into the air

Destruction after avalanche:
Destruction after avalanche

We later came to know that the avalanche was so strong that it had been seen from the basecamp as well.  And the severity was so high that they predicted many causalities. Soon all radio sets got busy to get to know whether there are any missing or causalities. Fortunately all were safe except one cook who was on his way to camp2 was thrown into the deep crevasse by strong blow of the avalanche. Soon rescue operation was launched; he was rescued by the team of Sherpas and evacuated by helicopter.  Later we got to know that the casualty had multiple fractures in his legs.

Anand and Ashish approaching us after avalanche
Anand and Ashish approaching us after avalanche

Rescue operation
Rescue operation

Climbers trying to connect to basecamp through radio sets
Climbers trying to connect to basecamp through radio sets

After half an hour we were back on our way to camp2. Soon we passed through the core area of the avalanche where we found debris of pieces of ice spread over at least sq. mile. The ropes fixed on the route were blown miles off. We continued our climb in such adverse condition. It took us twelve hours to reach camp2. We pitched tents at camp2 and had early dinner and went a sleep at 1800Hrs. In our sleeping bags we were thinking of the series of events that had happened throughout the day and found ourselves very lucky to be survived.

Debris of ice after avalanche
Debris of ice after avalanche