Update: Hope Fades for Three Sherpas Missing in Everest Icefall

At least three Sherpa climbers are missing in the Khumbu Icefall this morning, The Himalayan Times reported, quoting a source from Base Camp.

The missing climbers are Da Chhiree Sherpa, Lakpa Tendi Sherpa, and Lakpa Rita Sherpa. They are part of the Imagine Nepal team. They were carrying gear and ropes to Camp 1 when “the Icefall route collapsed,” according to The Himalayan Times.

Original reports stated that the victims fell into a crevasse. Later, Himalayan Rescue Association coordinator Lakpa Norbu Sherpa clarified that they had instead been buried in an avalanche caused by a massive serac fall.

Everest route map.

Everest South Side route, showing the Khumbu Icefall and the higher camps. Photo: Alpenglow Expeditions


Serac fall

Lakpa T. Sherpa of 8K Expeditions has just shared a video on Instagram showing an avalanche triggered by a serac falling from the West Shoulder and sweeping the icefall. Check it here:

A specialized team put together by the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee (SPCC) handles the route across the hazardous Khumbu Icefall. This season, the team completed their task and opened the route to Camp 2 (6,400m) on April 6.

From Camp 2, Imagine Nepal is fixing the rest of the route to the summit this year. It is still unclear whether the missing men were part of that rope-fixing team — led by IFMGA guide Dawa Gyalje Sherpa — or were carrying supplies to the Western Cwm.

The rope-fixing team poses behind rolls of blue rope piled up, and fixing gear.

Imagine Nepal’s rope-fixing team with spools of fixing rope in Kathmandu last week. Photo: Imagine Nepal


A helicopter and members of both Imagine Nepal and the SPCC have been involved in a search-and-rescue operation.

Sherpa workers most exposed

Foreign teams are only starting to reach Everest Base Camp. However, the Sherpas supporting the expeditions are already fixing the route and setting up Camps 1 and 2.

Most accidents on Everest happen in the Khumbu Icefall, a highly fragile area of seracs on an ever-moving glacier. Sherpa staff are the most common victims because they spend the most time on that section of the route.

Some expedition outfitters try to avoid the South Side route for that reason. In previous years, the equipment for the rope-fixing team was airlifted directly to Camp 2 to minimize their exposure. The too-frequent tragedies in the Icefall have prompted Marc Batard to try to open a new variation route to Camp 2. But his chosen line across the flank of Nuptse is far from easy.

In the latest update, Lakpa Norbu said that helicopters had flown over the area three times but couldn’t reach the spot at around 5,700m where the Sherpas had been buried. He added that the chances of finding them alive are diminishing, since the missing men are under five or six meters of ice debris.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.