Saturday, 2 May 2015

Sean Wisedale — Mt Everest — Post earthquake/avalanche decision

Trekking outward from Everest Base Camp five days ago, we looked to find some clarity and possibly clear the imagery from our minds of the devastating quake and avalanche on the 25th April. Simultaneously we needed to make some decisions on the future of our climb of Mt Everest. We had little chance of fleeing as there was too much to clear up and flights in and out of Kathmandu were limited. Before we left Base Camp many expeditions that had been completely wiped out by the avalanche made the decision to abandon their climb. Information (some unreliable) about other expeditions doing the same has been trickling in.

We spent three days after the avalanche assisting others and evacuating the wounded and assessing our own situation. There are a number of important things that we need to consider and be sensitive towards:
1) Can we assist those affected in Nepal who are in need and need our help.
2) Our own safety.
3) The status of our logistics camp, supplies and possibility of continuing with the climb.

We know that Kathmandu and the regions affected by the earthquake are remotely inaccessible from where we are now. We also saw on our trek through the valleys and over Renjo pass over the last five days that some of the villages like Dhole, Gokyo, Lundgren etc. are still accessible and functioning.

Trek over Renjo pass

We are in Namche Bazar at the moment where few structures have been destroyed and no one has been evacuated. There’s been little injury and loss of life in these areas. Yesterday however, we passed through Thame at about 5pm and there it is vastly different — most of the buildings are built on sand and the destruction is vast. There are families assisting one another with shelter and protection from the cold. Tents are pitched in the fields where these families are staying. Some reconstruction is taking place fortunately. It’s possible the locals must have knowledge of earthquakes in this seismically unstable mountain region . Many of the structures are built of precisely masoned stone, without cement. Where these structures have fallen down, the materials are being collected and put back in place.

Thame - damage

Thame - damage
Food, fuel and supplies in these areas do not seem to be a problem as most of the people living here are self-sufficient and are literally able to ‘live off the land’ so to speak. Medical supplies throughout the Khumbu valley also seem to be okay for now. Fortunately most of the injured have been evacuated to facilities in Kathmandu.

As I mentioned, we are in Namche Bazar and a little fatigued after our trek. Yesterday as we arrived, we had an enlightening and surprise encounter with the ‘Icefall doctors’. They are a team of hardened Nepalese Sherpas who are employed by the Nepalese government to open and maintain the route through the Khumbu Icefall on Mt Everest. This morning I had a coffee with them before they flew out by helicopter to Gorak Shep and then onto Base Camp. They are geared up and heading up to assess and re-open the route for any expedition wishing to continue climbing.

Of course there is no guarantee that may happen as the route may be too badly affected. But if it is opened, then the first obstacles to continue climbing may be overcome.

Then there’s the route to Camp 2 and beyond that we have to consider. Only time will tell.

We have a great team of Sherpas prepared to continue climbing.

Our camp, fuel and supplies are intact.

We are motivated to continue.

Time wise, we have a month on our hands.

Our decision is to head back up to base Camp the day after tomorrow and make another assessment of the situation when we get there.

All the best
Trek over Renjo pass - Everest in the background
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