Nepali Sherpas successfully evacuated two Slovakian climbers who were trapped above 7,000 metres on Mount Everest following an avalanche on Tuesday.
The two climbers, Vladimìr Strba and Zoltàn Pàl, who were climbing without the help of guides and porters, were brought down from the southwest face route, which is rarely used by climbers.
They were flown by helicopter to Kathmandu on Wednesday and are being treated in a private hospital for frostbite-like conditions. Both are safe and are expected to recover fully in a few days.
“The climbers were struck by a small avalanche between 10 am and 11 am on Tuesday morning at 7,200 metres. They couldn’t move up or come down as they were injured by blocks of ice,” said Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, which conducted the rescue operation.
Four Sherpa rescuers reached the spot within five hours of the accident but struggled for a long time to get to the injured men because of the difficult terrain.
“The rescuers had to fix ropes for 700 metres before they were able to bring the climbers to a safer place from where they were trapped,” said Sherpa.
The climbers were brought down to Camp 2, located at 6,600 metres, where they spent the night before being flown to Kathmandu.
Strba and Pàl were the only two climbers who were trying to summit the world’s highest peak from the southwest face, which was last used by a South Korean climber seven years ago.
Most climbers making the ascent from the Nepal side try to reach the 8,848-metre peak from the southeast face, the preferred route where ropes and ladders are laid to help climbers along the way.
Following two disastrous seasons with avalanches that claimed 35 lives in the past two years, nearly 300 climbers and guides from across the world are gearing up to scale Everest this month.
Clear weather is expected between May 14 and May 16, when nearly 100 climbers will make a bid for the peak. Others will wait till the next weather window between May 19 and May 20.