Manaslu, a report after the avalanche by the Mountain Kingdom expedition
The situation on Manaslu after the avalanche disaster, sent to us by the Mountain Kingdom expedition
As we mentioned in the previous reports, all members of the Mountain Kingdom Manaslu expedition are safe and sound. We sent them some questions via email to find out more about the situation on the mountain. Here are their answers:
Here, in these hours, the exact number of victims and missing is unclear... what can you tell us?
According to those coordinating the rescue, i.e. the leaders of the agencies here, the numbers are: 8 dead, 3 missing, 14 people rescued (injured). 31 the total number of people involved in the avalanche.
So as to get a general idea: how many alpinists are at Manaslu and how many were on the mountain the moment the avalanche hit?
It's impossible to know precisely
When did it happen?
We believe between 04:30 e le 04:45 am (Editor's note: Nepal time on Sunday 23 September 2012).
Where were you when the avalanche struck?
5 of us at Camp 2 at circa 6360m, and 2 at Base Camp. The five at Camp 2 were there to acclimatise.
Tell us about the conditions on the mountain... (could an avalanche have been expected?)
No, this avalanche was triggered by a serac fall at circa 7300m.
How many (roughly) alpinists were there at Campo 2 and Camp 3?
It's impossible to know precisely.
What happened to you at Camp 2, and how did you "experience" it?
Camp 2 is split into two parts, the lower section where we were wasn't hit by the gust of wind which was generated by the avalanche and nothing was damaged. The upper section of Camp 2 (circa 30m higher) was hit by the gust and this damaged some tents and blew away the gear which was stashed in the vestibules.
What happened at Base Camp?
Base Camp was informed at 05:10. After having got the first general details about those involved, the agencies at Kathmandu were informed at 05:30. The helicopter reached BC at 09:45.
After the avalanche struck, when did you comprehend the magnitude of the disaster? And what happened on the mountain?
As dawn came we realised that Camp 3 had been struck by the avalanche. From what we could see, a group of people set off from Camp 2 towards the accident site, while flights began to come from BC.
Yesterday... tell us about the rescue operations and what was happening at Base Camp?
First aid was organised by the groups at BC, as well as a means to evacuate the injured off the mountain to Base Camp or Samagaon (the first village) or Kathmandu.
It seems as if some alpinists remained on the mountain tonight, were they in difficulty?
No, all injured alpinists were evacuated on Sunday 23 September.
What happened today?
The last 6 bodies were recovered and the search continued for the missing 3 climbers, without success. In total 20 flights were carried out.
Your thoughts about the helicopter rescue and the general feeling of the alpinists and those who took part in the rescue operations.
This was a rescue at an extremely high altitude (between Camp 2 at 6360m and Camp 3 at 6800m) in conditions at the very limit. We reckon that the pilots, the means, the Sherpa and expedition leaders involved in the rescue operations did a first class job. The spirit of the alpinists was marked by total cooperation, everyone according to their personal abilities (doctors, mountain guides, Sherpa, alpinists).
What will you do now?
We don't yet know...
Cesare Cesa Bianchi
- Manaslu avalanche