I sat and counted 13 helicopter lifts, 12 were dead bodies flying overhead suspended by long-line from a helicopter. Everyone is shaken here at base camp. Some climbers from various teams are packing up and calling it quits, they want nothing to do with this. Reality has set in. We had a meeting with our Sherpa crew and I gave all of them permission to go home and call it a season if they wanted with full pay, they all want to stay and even a couple of them after coming very close to being victims themselves.
We had a couple Sherpa climbers with loads trapped in a conjested area due to slow movement of Sherpas in the popcorn field below Camp 1, it was tough going which caused the delays. Their feet started to get cold so they dropped their loads, tied them off on the rope and retreated to base camp just 5 mintues before the avalanche let loose.
Two other Peak Freak guides, Tashi and Paulden Sherpa were above the avalanche just starting to make their way down from Camp 1 when it happened. They were trapped for a bit and had to remake the route and fix ladders to get down.
The press has been reporting that the Sherpas were fixing the route with rope as released by the Ministry of Tourism Nepal, the reality is that the route had already been fixed to Camp 1 and Sherpas were just starting to haul the mountainous loads of upper mountain rope, equipment like tents, stoves, oxygen, fuel and so on up to stock camps. This was why they were moving so slowly.
There was a meeting today at base camp with leaders and some out-spoken Sherpas. They are heating up. They are not impressed with the Ministry of Nepal that gains over 100 million a year revenue from Everest and the amount alloted for the familes when something goes wrong does not make sense. The ministry did put some officials at camp this year in light of the conflict last year, but at this meeting they were nowhere to found. Even after Sherpas were yelling out one officials name that they knew well - there was no response. The Sherpas are covered by insurance that all operators pay as required by the government of Nepal, this amount was increased by 10x for this season. It is possible the Sherpas are just concerned and just want to make sure they get all of it.
A time of healing and re-thinking has been asked for. One Sherpa taking the stance as a spokesperson for the group has asked for 4 days of no climbing. We will whole heartedly respect that.
Below is a video of the last avalanche in 2009 from the same aspect, the west shoulder of Everest. You can see the ice chunks above and how when they come off with daytime heating it's directly above the route. The route to the east is even worse so this is the safest side.
Time for sleep and try to digest all that has gone on today. Everyone is in agreement that Everest 2014 is shaping up to be the worst season in history for complications and for deaths, it's already surpased previous records in one event.
Over and out