Sad news from the Himalaya today where it was revealed that an avalanche on Ama Dablam has claimed the life of a Sherpa and injured a foreign climber. The avalanche was caused by ongoing seismic activity in the region, with a 5.6 magnitude earthquake causing the slide.
The 13-member team launched its summit bid this past weekend with the hopes of topping out on the 6812-meter (22,349 ft) Ama Dablam tomorrow. They were hiking up from Camp II to Camp III this morning when the accident occurred.
Reportedly, heavy snow rolled down the mountain, striking the climbers on the slopes. Most of the team was left with minor injuries, including bruises and scrapes, but Lakpa Thundu Sherpa suffered internal injuries and was airlifted from Camp III to Lukla for medical assistance, but unfortunately he succumbed to those injuries while in the mountain town.
The Himalayan Times also reports that a British national by the name of Ciaran Hill was also injured in the accident. The extent of those injuries has not been revealed, but the climber was airlifted off the mountain and returned to Kathmandu for treatment.
The remainder of the team reached Camp III and are now deciding whether or not they should continue upwards, or retreat to Base Camp and head home. It is not uncommon for a team to pull the plug on their expedition following the loss of a teammate, but for now they seem to be weighing their options.
The fall climbing season is slowly grinding to a halt, and it won’t be too long before all expeditions come to an end. Winter weather is approaching the Himalaya, and now most of the mountains will close until the spring. Ama Dablam is often considered a good tune-up peak before trying some of the taller mountains in the area. It is generally considered quite safe, although the altitude can play a role in the health of climbers. In this case, it was an unexpected earthquake – an aftershock of the one that occurred in April of 2015 – that caused the avalanche to begin in the first place. Fortunately, there were no other major casualties nor was their extensive damage in the area.
My condolences to the friends and family of Lakpa Sherpa. Also, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that Hill recovers fully from his injuries as well.