Climbers Buried Under Falling Ice Masses on Everest

The 3 Sherpas were part of the team prepping the route from Camp 2 to the summit
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 13, 2023 10:53 AM CDT
1st Accident of the Season Kills 3 on Everest
Bright yellow tents in Mount Everest Base Camp, beneath the Khumbu glacier, is shown.   (Getty Images / Elena Slepitskaya)

In the first accident of the climbing season on Mount Everest, three Sherpa climbers were missing and presumed dead Wednesday after they were buried under snow and ice just above base camp. While the AP initially reported they fell into a deep crevasse on Wednesday morning as they were moving toward the first camp on the world’s highest mountain, a Nepalese mountaineering official tells the Katmandu Post that wasn't the case, but that they were actually buried under falling ice masses in the Khumbu Icefall. They were trapped "five to six meters underneath," says Lakpa Norbu Sherpa of the Himalayan Rescue Association. "The ice sheets are as big as houses. It’s not possible to dig, either."

The Post reports the rescue mission that commenced was abandoned on the same day after it was determined it was "impossible" to find the Sherpas alive. They had been part of a 25-person team that was working to prep the route from Camp 2 to the summit. The Khumbu Icefall is a constantly shifting glacier with deep crevasses and huge overhanging ice that can be as big as 10-story buildings. It is considered one of the most difficult and tricky sections of the climb to the peak, reports the AP. In 2014, a chunk of the glacier sheared away from the mountain, setting off an avalanche of ice that killed 16 Sherpa guides as they carried clients’ equipment up the mountain. It was one of the deadliest disasters in Everest climbing history.

Hundreds of foreign climbers and about the same number of Nepalese guides and helpers are expected to attempt to scale the 29,032-foot mountain during the main climbing season that began in March and ends at the end of May. Climbers have begun to settle in at the base camp to acclimatize to the weather and altitude while the Sherpas place ladders and ropes and carry supplies to the upper camps for their clients. Explorersweb reports the "severely damaged route across the Icefall will have to be redone," and it's unclear when it will be stable enough to cross.

(More Mount Everest stories.)

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