Two mountaineers from Maharashtra, who have led 16 expeditions to the Everest Base Camp, were in Nepal when the earthquakes rocked the country from April 25. But instead of heading home, they continue to help with the rescue efforts.
Sauraj Jhingan and Samir Patham run a Pune-based company called Adventure Pulse that conducts high-altitude expeditions. The left for Nepal on March 17 for what they had hoped would be a life-changing 2.5-month journey to the summit of Mount Everest.
The disaster struck after Jhingan and Patham set up base at Khumbhu icefall (more than 17,000 above sea level). “First there were tremors and then the deafening sound of an avalanche, which ripped our tent as could not close it in time. Before we knew it, our tents were flattened and covered in about six to eight inches of snow,” shared Patham, through email, as we could not contact him over the phone.
The duo said their survival has been nothing short of a miracle as most tents at lower altitudes were completely destroyed. They decided on a whim to stay back. “We first recovered our equipment and rations and then teamed up with other survivors and to help others recover their belongings such as sleeping bags and food. Whatever was recovered, was distributed among scores of sherpas and mountaineers for the next couple of days,” Patham said.
“The conditions were tough. Communication lines were down, personal belongings scattered all over, and temperatures dropping to -30 degrees. But we managed,” he added. After they got help from the Army and other organisations, the duo said they have been carrying medical aid and locating missing climbers.
“We will soon secure our camp and equipment and begin descending. It takes about three days to reach Lukla. We hope to catch a flight to Kathmandu and get back to India by the second week of May,” Patham said in the email.