Earthquakes – Avanlanche – End of Expedition
On the 25 of April we had just come down from Lobouche East summit when the earthquake stroke.
We had reached bottom of the chute (renne in Norwegian) when the earth started moving. At first just a lite, then tremendously. We had to stand with “sea legs” to stand upright… then we heard rocks starting to fall.
We had to run to get away from them and found shelter behind a big rock. Running at 5000m altitude is something you don’t want to do, but adrenalin made it very easy to run with a backpack. At least until we had shelter, then it took several minutes to be able to breathe normal again. We just experienced the largest earthquake in Nepal since 1934. 7,8 on richter scale.
At first we didn’t understand the magnitude of it.
When we arrived at our lodge in Loubuche we realized it had damaged the buildings in the village and a few aftershock that afternoon had us run out of the house several times. Later in the evening we started to get news about the earthquake and also the avalanche at Base Camp. People around us desperately trying to get hold of their families to find out if they were ok.
The following day we walked to Gorak Shep and we met more and more people telling about the horrors of the avalanche in Base Camp. We also had a rather large after shock – at a magnitude of 6.7. At the time we were in a safe place, but it’s hard to get used to earthquakes. We decided to stay in Gorak Shep instead of continuing to Base Camp - it's a safe place, if the houses can hold up for the after shoks. The ones at night were the worst – making us quite jumpy, ready to run outside.
Arriving at our camp in Everest Basecamp was just surreal. I’m not going into details here, but there was still injured and dead people being transported out, tents, personal effects and broken things spread out. Showing how powerful and merciless the nature can be.
Somehow our camp had only minor damage, all our Sherpas was safe and free from injury. Just a few meters from our camp the story was totally different.
The first earthquake was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since the 1934, killed more than 8,000 people and injured more than 19,000. It triggered an avalanche from the mountain Pomori hitting Everest Basecamp, killing at least 19 and injuring around 70 people - making it the deadliest day on the mountains history.
To continue was after all this not an option, one thing is that is physically was not possible. The route up the mountain was damaged and the timeframe it would take to fix it made it impossible before the season was over. What was more important was that our Sherpas should be able to go home to their families. Most of them have lost parts of, or their whole house.
I have no idea why I suddenly got an inch to turn around on Louboche East that morning, but that combined with the fact that we went ahead of our Sherpas down is most likely why it did not go wrong with our team that day. Had we been further up the hill, only 5 minutes further up we would have had big troubles with running/hiding from the falling rocks.
There is also a few stories were strange things happened. Looking in retrospect they are the reasons it all went so well with our team. For that we are all immensely grateful. Everybody is safe, and all the Sherpas families are safe. At the end of they day that is what matters.