Interview from base camp: the worst Everest disaster in history

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 26/04/2015

"All we are doing is waiting. Expecting another big shock. Reports getting worse every hour..." After a powerful earthquake struck Nepal, causing extensive damage and triggering huge avalanches on Everest, we interview guide Sean James at base camp on the north side.

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I've been in many disasters in the mountains and earthquakes before. This is seemingly bigger than anything before. It's only been 24 hours since the first shock of the earthquake hit us. It seems like longer.

There was another massive shock five hours ago. Ground rocking. Mountains tumbling again. Like being on a boat. Back and fore. The shocks, aftershocks and quakes are constant. The ground continuously rumbling and rolling. 

We are probably in the safest place possible. Everest North Base Camp is a large flat plain that offers protection from the falling rocks. Of which there are many here. 

The reports of destruction around us are equally continuous. South side Everest is terrible. 200 peope missing and reports get worse every hour.

There is a meeting tonight of Sherpas, CMA and climbing teams to attempt a decision about what to do. Already the north side of Everest is closed for six days so nothing can happen quickly.

The last set of shocks were along the thin, steep valley from Kodari and Zhangmu. Every year the monsoon combined with massive landslides shut this busy route. Now we've heard it's not possible. 

So if we wanted to go where do we go? At the moment we wait. More quakes are forecast and although bravado is high, the correct decision in the face of such a huge disaster will probably be to leave the mountain untouched this season.

Our main concern is the Sherpas and their families. When the quake first struck they were high fixing camps. They are back now reporting crevasses opened, route changes and slopes sliding. They are keen to contact their families in Kathmandu but no communication channels are working.

They also have no news of their relatives working on other mountains. Minute by minute the scale grows. Already the worst mountaineering incident in history. We had just returned from higher up the mountain to base camp for a five day rest.

The quakes started as some wobbly fun then continued for over a minute. For those of us who had been in quakes before this was a big one. 3G at base camp meant we were instantly online trying to find info.

The infrastructure in Nepal it seems was destroyed. Kathmandu flattened. We are in Tibet and communications and electricity still are standing. 

Our team has a doctor and other medical and military trained members. Six of them have expressed an interest in going to help the relief effort, abandoning Everest. Easier said than done. It's impossible to contact anyone in Nepal. London and the rest of the world is easier.

Interview posted at 13:00, 26/04

READ: Sean James runs hiking and climbing adventures and international expeditions.

More about him on his website and live updates from Everest on his twitter page. 

WATCH: the avalanche sweep through Everest base camp


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