The mountaineering season in Nepal has come to an end. Despite the fact that the season was marred by Covid-19 and two cyclones, approximately 400 people reached the summits of Nepal’s major mountains, with only five deaths. Expeditions to Annapurna and Baruntse, as well as Everest and Lhotse, were successful, whereas expeditions to Makalu and Dhaulagiri were canceled due to the risk of avalanches.
Despite the Tautkae and Yaas cyclones, a few teams risked it everything to reach the top, while others, fearful for their own and their clients’ lives, decided to call it a day and head home.
Nepal’s highlands have suffered numerous severe calamities in the past, primarily owing to weather conditions. As a result of avalanches and seracs collapsing, entire teams vanished on the mountain. While conditions have improved thanks to greater mountaineering training and equipment, life in the mountains is still fraught with danger.
We take a look back at seven significant tragedies that occurred in Nepal’s high mountains.
Mount Everest 1970
One of Everest’s most treacherous sections is the Khumbu icefall. Many people have died there, including Nepalese mountaineers and their support crew, as well as foreign visitors. On April 5, 1970, six Nepali mountaineers were killed in an avalanche at the icefall, making it one of the first big disasters. They were participants in a Japanese skiing trip that resulted in the film The Man Who Skied Down Everest.
Mima Norbu, Nima Dorje, Tshering Tarkey, Pasang, Kunga Norbu, and Kami Tshering died on the icefall, while Kyak Tsering perished after a serac fell on him a few days later.
Manaslu is generally one of the world’s safest 8,000-meter peaks. However, it demonstrated to everyone in 1972 that safety in the mountains is not assured. At 6,500 meters, an avalanche buried the Korean camp, killing fifteen climbers, including 10 Nepali mountain guides, Korean expedition leader Kim Ho-sup, and Kazunari Yasuhisa from Japan.
Climbers say Annapurna is one of the most dangerous mountains on the planet. The weather on the summit is unpredictably cold and snow-covered throughout the year, and powerful jet streams can wash anyone away from the mountain’s face. Of the 14 eight-thousanders, Annapurna I has the highest death rate. Three people die on the mountain on average for every ten who reach the summit. Four Nepali mountain guides and two Koreans died in the mountain in 1991 after being swept away by an avalanche.
This disaster is well-known, as several books have been published about it, and an IMAX film is currently being made about it. On May 10 and 11, five climbers perished on Everest after being stranded in a blizzard while attempting to descend from the peak. Twelve individuals died attempting to summit Everest that year, making it the deadliest season on the mountain at the time.
Rob Hall and Andrew Harris of Adventure Consultants, Scott Fischer of Mountain Madness, and clients Dough Hansen and Yasuko Namba were among the notable deaths on the mountain that year. Even though he had severe frost bites on his limbs, Beck Weathers, who was left for dead atop the South Col, surprisingly lived.
People began to raise concerns about the monetization of Everest starting this year. It’s a topic that’s still being debated today.
At 7,000 meters, an avalanche hit Camp 3 of the mountain, killing 11 people and wounding many more. According to the survivors, the avalanche occurred when a large chunk of ice dropped from a glacier above Camp 3. The ice sheet is estimated to be the size of two football fields. The majority of those who perished on the peak were French.
In the autumn climbing season, which began in September, 232 international climbers were granted permission to climb Manaslu. They were accompanied by about 150 guides and support professionals.
For the climbing community in Nepal, it’s still a sad day. On April 18, 2014, an avalanche killed up to 16 Nepali climbers in the Khumbu icefall after a serac on the mountain’s western spur collapsed. Thirteen remains were recovered from the mountain, but the other three were never discovered. The entire climbing community was stunned as friends and family members perished on the peak. The issue worsened when the Nepalese government handed the victims’ families a little monetary settlement, prompting them to go on strike and cancel the season altogether in honor of their friends who died on the mountain.
The Everest season was disrupted for the second year in a row after the earthquake triggered another cancellation owing to a deadly avalanche on April 25, 2015, which killed 22 people. The avalanche generated by the 7.8-magnitude earthquake avalanched from Pumori into Mount Everest’s base camp. Because of the numerous aftershocks, the season was called off, and no one attempted to climb Everest for the first time in 41 years.