Everest: Avalanche in Camp 2

8000ers Everest
Huge line of climbers in shadow on Everest
Who said no crowds? Last week's summit wave from Camp 3 on Everest. Photo: Mingma Dorchi Sherpa

It seems that the inside stories of this Everest season will only emerge after the climbers return home. This story’s lead image shows how little impact Nepal’s rules to prevent crowding have had. Pioneer Adventure’s leader Mingma Dorchi Sherpa, who also summited on May 23, took the photo.

On the mountain itself, information continues sketchy and PR-oriented. The few climbers who share updates post only about their own experiences. And last night, one of those experiences was terrifying.

Colin O’Brady of the U.S. and Csaba Varga of Hungary, both attempting to climb without oxygen, were shocked awake when an avalanche from Nuptse sent shockwaves through Camp 2 where they slept.

“Last night was one of the scariest of my life,” O’Brady admitted. “For a moment I thought it was the end.”

Luckily, the slide only damaged gear and injured no one. “It took some courage to strap on the crampons today and keep climbing toward the summit, but that is exactly what I did,” O’Brady said. He is spending the night in Camp 3 and plans to head for Camp 4 at dawn.

The avalanche affected Csaba Varga even more than O’Brady. Varga has decided to turn around. “It’s just great news nobody died,” he said.

His sponsor Khalifa added: “With the current avalanche risk and the tough conditions on the route, a ‘clean’ (no O2 and no Sherpa support) climb is just too risky.”

Before returning to Base Camp, Varga shared a video of the tents flattened by the avalanche in the middle of the night.

The wreckage of Camp 2 this morning. Photo: Tashi Lakpa Sherpa

Tashi Lakpa Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks, currently in Kathmandu after guiding the Bahraini team on Everest, shared some pictures of the destroyed tents in Camp 2. “[This is the] first time in 19 Everest expeditions that I have seen this kind of hit at Everest Camp 2,” he wrote.

Better weather

It seems clear that the weather has improved. Today, Nirmal Purja led “his own team” from Camp 3 to Camp 4 at the South Col.

“I’m pleased to be leading [the] Everest and Lhotse expedition for my own guiding company, along with one of my partners, Mingma David Sherpa,” Purja wrote.

It is hard to tell what he is implying: Is he only responsible for his own people? Anyway, he is setting off for the summit tonight.

Other climbers are one day behind. Unlike past years, there are no details on how or whether expedition teams are coordinating efforts. Nor can we obtain a reliable estimate of the number of people still going for the summit or their exact whereabouts. Some local outfitters spoke of 150 climbers a couple of days ago, but the number could be smaller. Many have decided that it is too risky to venture up the mountain’s higher slopes.

Colin O’Brady on fixed ropes en route to Camp 3. Photo: Colin O’Brady

A few climbers begin to speak

Besides posting on social media, Everest climbers should also report to the Himalayan Database. Because of COVID, the HDB team will not be able to visit teams at their hotels, but they request that all climbers returning from Everest fill and submit this online form.

Also noteworthy is a video by Ang Tshering Lama. It shows one helicopter hovering precariously close to another as it waits for space on the same tiny landing spot at Everest Base Camp. The medical team from the Himalayan Rescue Association that shared the video noted that some of those flights “are for rescue, some for convenience, but all of them are relatively risky in this high-altitude environment.” Ang Tshering also mentioned that the flights picked up “sick or tired” climbers at EBC.

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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Don Paul
Don Paul
13 days ago

Excellent photo by Mingma Dorchi Sherpa. Censorship or not, the truth must be told.

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Charles Ford
Charles Ford
12 days ago
Reply to  Don Paul

Exactly. I understand the Nepalese tourist dollars are important, but not as important as saving lives. That many people on a fixed rope is recipe for disaster. That photo is a horror show.

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Adrian
Adrian
13 days ago

Thank you, Angela for the report! I wonder if said climber/climbers would claim themselves as “legendary” for summitting Everest with Covid (to claim that it would be even harder). If so, I think we can all conclude that their ego has definitely got the better of them. Wish everyone a safe descent and hope their egos have been satisfied.

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Adrian
Adrian
13 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

P.S. in other news, Marek Holecek and Radoslav Groh are now in KTM. Marek uploaded a photo of him in a hospital in KTM looking rather gaunt. Their climb has to be the climb of the year so far!

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Maysnow
Maysnow
12 days ago
Reply to  Adrian

Nach den Berichten und Fotos – i know czech mountaineerer’s mentatlity, trotzdem, ich habe die Frage, warum wird man dann wieder hochgehen?! Ist das eine männliche Form von Selbstverletzendem Verhalten?

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Matthias
Matthias
12 days ago

I’m relatively new around here and came to like ExWeb for the critical and accurate reporting (from what I can tell anyway). But this accuracy seems to give way to a pushed agenda lately. Ferrier-May in no way said “I summited with covid”. He said he got Covid (probably meaning he experienced symptoms) between BC and C2, and it sounds like he was fine (on oxygen) later during the summit push. I’m in no way denying Covid or any of its problems for mountaineering and the current fiasco at Everest. But it really isn’t helpful for your credibility if critical… Read more »

Jordy
Jordy
12 days ago
Reply to  Matthias

…so he had covid. So the reporting is right..

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Matthias
Matthias
12 days ago
Reply to  Jordy

That’s not my point. It’s out of question that there must have been Covid cases from BC all the way to the top, just probabilisticly.

But making up incorrect quotes is bad journalism and doesn’t add to the credibility in a world where there’s no absolute truth but rather a fight of opinions.

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Marie
Marie
12 days ago
Reply to  Matthias

It does not really matter if he summited with an active COVID disease or shortly after he recovered from COVID. The government of Nepal denied that there were any COVID cases on the mountain, when there were clearly more than a few (his second Sherpa also got sick and had to be heli-evacuated). THIS site is (apart from a very few others) the only reliable source of truthful information, so in my opinion it would really be better if you went to other sites and accounts of people, enterprises and institutions which blatantly covered up the truth, in order to… Read more »

Charles Ford
Charles Ford
12 days ago
Reply to  Matthias

The quote was ‘I Summited with Covid.” The climber said he summited while sick with Covid.

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Matthias
Matthias
12 days ago
Reply to  Charles Ford

He just does not say this. Please copy and paste the passage if you can find it.

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jessica jacklyn leser
jessica jacklyn leser
11 days ago
Reply to  Matthias

He’s exact wording from his Instagram page “I got covid (then climbed from base camp to camp 2, 6500m / 21300ft… one of the more difficult days of my life!)”. I have to agree that using quotation marks in the title indicates a direct quote and that is not the case. Would have been better to use the quote “I got covid”.

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Maysnow
Maysnow
12 days ago
Reply to  Matthias

viral symptoms in C2.no test kit, with O2 better. He was not healthy, but went up,Thats the story.

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Lynn
Lynn
12 days ago

WoWza ! Crowding like that is just not acceptable. More people that will be 4everest ! They are all in my prayers.

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john Christiansen
john Christiansen
12 days ago

How selfish and irresponsible can you be

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