Everest: Avalanche in Camp 2

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.