Everest Fatality Update
Everest's North Face as seen from the Tibetan base camp (17,000ft). Advance base camp (21,500ft) is 16 miles away, below and to the left of the peak (29,028ft).
Avalanche Swept Through Fixed Route
Tuesday, September 9, 1997 (Everest North Face base camp)
On Monday a member of a Korean climbing expedition on the north side of Everest was swept to his death in an avalanche at 22,000 feet.
Eight members of the team were following a series of fixed ropes leading up from the advance base camp (ABC) to a higher camp on the summit ridge when the incident occurred. The unidentified climber was at the rear of the group and reportedly noticed the avalanche with only enough time to alert his companions.
Heavy snows during the previous several days had contributed to treacherous, unstable slopes on a mountain notorious for its severe conditions.
Several international teams at ABC have combined their efforts in the last twenty-four hours to search for the Korean's body without success.
Nearly sixty climbers from at least eight countries are attempting to summit Mt. Everest from the north (Tibetan) side this season in addition to several teams on the south (Nepalese) side of the mountain. The expeditions face a tiny window of opportunity between the just-ending monsoon season and winter, further narrowed by expiring permits, limited supplies, and illness.
[Click here for the full report as well as other updates from Everest]
The following is an interview with Craig Calonica, who is reporting to the Mountain Zone
daily as he attempts an ascent and ski descent of the North Face of
Everest. He sheds more light on Monday's tragic death:
The Mountain Zone:
We were saddened to hear the news of the Korean's tragic
Have you learned any more details about the accident? Was the
team under some crunch to summit quickly for some reason an expiring climbing
permit, lack of supplies?
The Korean team had just arrived at advance base camp the day before and it's hard to
believe anyone other than Superman would dare venture far from camp at
least until they had a couple days to acclimatize to the high altitude
ABC, which is at 21,500 feet (6,500 meters).
The Colombian team went up first yesterday. The group consisted of two
Colombians and three of their Sherpas. The Korean was between ABC and CI [camp I] and was probably at around 22,000 feet
when the slide cut loose and took him away.
It is too bad, as this accident was totally unnecessary. First of all, it
been snowing for about the last five days and there was deep snow
on the face. No one should go even close to that face until three or four days
so it can settle or it slides off whichever comes first. It is no
that this is a very dangerous section, especially in fresh snow
and history has proven it. This area has claimed many lives, mostly to
avalanches, and going in the area too soon as was the case here. The
Colombians were very lucky to get away with it this time and hopefully
and everyone else will realize why this happened and will be a bit more
patient in the future.
One thing is for certain: you will never see me or
my team close to that area until it has absolutely seen the proper
time go by or it slides. Life is very short and we
very fragile and vulnerable to the conditions that exist here in the
Himalayas. You will never experience a more intimidating and life
situation in your whole life until you come here it is no place to
Do you think this will feed the general feeling in the climbing community
that the Koreans and other East Asian teams have been generally
over-aggressive while attempting Everest?
I have always been somewhat in awe by the attitude of the Asian teams
climbing in the Himalayas and on Big Walls. It almost always seems to me
that they accept the fact that they might or will die and therefore
sometimes... at least to me, anyway, in a reckless way, without the fear
you see in the most of us that makes us climb with caution, precision,
observance it's a required element to this level of climbing if you
to be around for awhile. It's not a type of fear that makes you paranoid,
it's a fear that makes you think clearly and do things right or else you
suffer consequences. You will not see me climbing at this level when
type of fear doesn't exist in me any longer since it's then that the
accidents will start to occur An accident in the Himalayas will usually be your last
Craig Colonica, cybercasting for The Mountain Zone from Everest
[Click here for the full report and other updates from Everest]