Everest Earthquake: All Climbers and Sherpas are Off the Mountain

4/27/15 – After inspection of the Khumbu Icefall by helicopter and by foot from below and from above, it was determined that the route was too broken up and risk too great to descend by foot. All climbers trapped in camps one and two have been evacuated by helicopter.

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Climbers in camp two descended to camp one while three helicopters ran constant shuttles—only two people per flight because of the high altitude. All climbers and Sherpas are now in base camp. RMI mountain guide described the rescue first hand in a blog post:

“It seemed unlikely that ninety plus landings and take offs—at what was a record breaking rescue altitude for helicopters only twenty years ago—could be accomplished without chaos or catastrophe… or at least unworkable delay, but sure enough, the first B3 powered on in at 6 AM and the great Everest Air Show began. A fear of the team leaders was a helicopter mob scene a la Saigon ‘75, but we’d arrayed our helipads in a way that didn’t allow for mobbing and everybody seemed to understand the need for superior social skills on this day. There was one way out and nobody wanted to get put on the “no fly” list. Eventually there were four or five birds in the air at any time, flying a dramatic loop from BC to Camp One to BC. A line of climbers with packs formed at each pad and a stream of climbers from Camp 2 made their way into what was left of Camp 1 and then joined the queues. It took four laps in Kiwi pilot Jason’s B3 to get our team down. Although it seemed already like a full day, it was only about when Chhering and I got off the final RMI chopper. There was no back-slapping. No cheering. No high fives. We’d put down at the epicenter of a disaster and we could barely believe our eyes. Whatever relief each of us felt at being off the mountain was quickly replaced with sadness and awe at the destructive power on evidence all around us.”

Read Hahn’s full account and more first-hand updates on the RMI blog.

According to posts from Adventure Consultants and RMI, the teams are making plans to descend from base camp but will not leave the Khumbu Valley just yet. The country’s infrastructure is so devastated and flights and safe accommodations in such short supply, that making a plan to get to Kathmandu could take several days.

Outside Magazine’s Grayson Schaffer reported that the ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation indicated that the Everest climbing season is finished.

The country’s death toll has risen above 3,700. //