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Uncertainty persists over Everest climbing season after avalanche deaths

A week after an avalanche triggered by the devastating earthquake in Nepal killed 18 people at the base camp of Mount Everest, uncertainty persists about the spring climbing season on the world's tallest peak.

world Updated: May 03, 2015 00:47 IST
Utpal Parashar
Kathmandu

An-injured-person-is-loaded-onto-a-rescue-helicopter-at-Everest-Base-Camp-in-Nepal-AFP-Photo

A week after an avalanche triggered by the devastating earthquake in Nepal killed 18 people at the base camp of Mount Everest, uncertainty persists about the spring climbing season on the world's tallest peak.



At least five of the 42 teams at the base camp have called off their expeditions, 10 to 15 are waiting at the camp and the rest are undecided after last week's events.



"This season's climb hasn't been abandoned yet. We are taking stock of the situation but don't want to force any team to quit their expeditions or go ahead," said tourism department chief Tulasi Gautam.



A team of experts, including some icefall doctors responsible for maintaining the route to the peak, headed for the base camp at a height of 5,364 metres on Saturday to access damage to the route after the avalanche.



"They will submit their report on Sunday and the situation will become much clearer on Monday on whether the season will go ahead or not," Gautam said.



The avalanche hit a section of the site at the base camp where 510 climbers and a similar number of support staff were camping before setting off for Everest and the nearby Lhotse and Nuptse peaks.



The huge mass of snow that barreled down the peak claimed the lives of climbers and trekkers from the US, China, Japan and Australia and 14 Sherpa guides.



Sixty-one others were injured and nearly 200 more were evacuated by helicopters.



Following the incident, the government announced that the climbing schedule would be delayed by at least a week. Usually climbers make attempts on peaks during May, depending on weather conditions.



"As of now, many teams have come down from the base camp and are stationed at places at lower altitudes like Namche Bazar and Lukla, which fall on the route to the base camp," said Gautam.



If climbing is abandoned this season, it will be the second consecutive year there will be no attempts on the world's highest peak. The death of 16 Sherpas in an avalanche in April last year had ended last spring's expeditions.

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