Earthquake and Avalanche Kill Climbers on Mt. Everest: April 25, 2015

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The Earthquake and Avalanche on Mount Everest: April 25, 2015

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The tragic avalanche on April 25, 2015 swept down the southern slopes of Pumori onto Everest Base Camp below the Khumbu Icefall. Photograph copyright Butch Adams/Getty Images

At 11:52 a.m. local time on April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, causing massive destruction and loss of life in Kathmandu and the surrounding area. Mount Everest, the 29,035-foot highest mountain in the world, was also affected by the earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks, causing a large avalanche to sweep down the southwest side of the mountain, killing at least 18 climbers, injuring over 50, and creating panic at Everest Base Camp at the base of the mountain. It is unknown exactly how many climbers were on the popular South Col route on Everest, but estimates are at least 300 foreign climbers and 400-500 Sherpas and other Nepalis. One report says there were at least 1,600 people at Base Camp, including climbers, guides, cooks, and porters.

Climber Alex Gavin from Romania, after running from his tent to escape the avalanche, tweeted: “Huge disaster. Helped searched and rescued victims through huge debris area. Many dead. Much more badly injured. More to die if not heli asap.” It appeared that there was little chance of immediate rescue by helicopter for any climbers on the mountain or Base Camp because of the widespread damage in the rest of Nepal and bad weather conditions. An Indian Army mountaineering team, cleaning trash off Mount Everest, has apparently done much of the rescue work and recovery of bodies.

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Avalanche Flattens Tents with Snow and Rock

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Aftermath of earthquake and avalanche on Mount Everest in 2015. Photograph courtesy Azim Afif

This photograph taken by Azim Afif shows some of the wreckage at Mount Everest Base Camp after a massive avalanche came down the mountain after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal. Afif and four others from the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) expedition survived the avalanche. Reports from Base Camp report at least 18 climbers died and that search and rescue operations are still occurring. 

Other climbers not in Base Camp were higher on the mountain, acclimatizing and preparing for their summit bids. All are above Camp 1 and have supplies for about a week. The route through the Khumbu Icefall, which was new this year and did not follow the same path as last year’s (an avalanche killed 15 Sherpas on April 15, 2014 in the Icefall), was obliterated by avalanches and by the glacier abruptly moving after the earthquake. 

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    Everest Base Camp at Night After Earthquake

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    Mount Everest Base Camp at night after earthquake and avalanche in April 2015. Photograph courtesy Azim Afif

    A photograph by Azim Afif, a member of a Malaysian climbing team, shows Mount Everest Base Camp on the night after the earthquake and avalanche. There is at least two "hospital" tents, formerly mess tents, where the injured climbers were being treated. Injuries included broken bones, scrapes, cuts, and lacerations from flying debris and rocks. Some climbers were just arriving back at Mount Everest Base Camp after leaving the Khumbu Icefall when the earthquake shook the ground and the avalanche struck. Azim Afi, who took this photo, said on Twitter, "It is very gloomy here at Everest Base Camp. The SAR is still underway." He also said a few hours ago that many are still buried in snow and that the Nepalese authorities had not said if anyone can go up or down.

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      American Climber Dan Fredinburg Died in Avalanche

      Dan Fredinburg on Mount Everest
      Dan Fredinburg, a Google executive, died in the April earthquake and avalanche on Mount Everest in 2015. Photograph courtesy Dan Fredinburg/Instagram

      It was just confirmed by a post on Instagram on the afternoon of April 25, 2015 that at least one American is among the 18 confirmed climbers who died on Mount Everest after the earthquake and avalanche. Dan Fredinburg, who worked for Google, died from a head injury that morning. He was with two other Googlers on the Jagged Globe expedition on Mount Everest.

      Dan's sister shared the news and the photograph on his Instagram account, writing:

      "This is Dans little sister Megan. I regret to inform all who loved hi...m that during the avalanche on Everest early this morning our Dan suffered from a major head injury and didn't make it. We appreciate all of the love that has been sent our way thus far and know his soul and his spirit will live on in so many of us. All our love and thanks to those who shared this life with our favorite hilarious strong willed man. He was and is everything to us. Thank you."