The powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Nepalese people on Saturday isn’t the biggest or deadliest the region has ever seen (1934 an 8.0 struck the region killing more than 16,000) but it did take its toll with 2400 known dead with another 5900 injured.
Dan Fredinburg, an engineer with Google and co-founder of Team Google Adventure was among 17 who died on Everest, Fredinburg sustained a fatal head injury on the slopes of the tallest mountain in the world.
The earthquake and ensuing avalanche come just over a year after 16 Sherpa guides were killed in a previous quake, the record for the mountain itself prior to this event. In a region where climbing has become more of a “walk in the park” has seen a consistently higher number of summiters in recent years (800 climbers reached the summit in 2013) and a much larger number of support people camped at the base.
A Dane (Carsten Lillelund Pedersen) and his climbing partner Jelle Veyt from Belgium stated on Facebook that they were climbing near the Khumbu icefall near 16,500 feet, when the quake hit. “He was blown away by the avalanche and broke both legs. For the camps closer to where the avalanche hit, our Sherpas believe that a lot of people may have been buried in their tents,” Pederson wrote in English. “There is now a steady flow of people fleeing basecamp in hope of more security further down the mountain”.
After many hours of radio silence, pleas from those following expedition leader Dan Mazur were finally answered via social media at about 8 a.m. EST with; “We felt the earthquake on the north side but have no damage and all are safe.”
The Summit Climb and Summit Trek, a company based in England and Washington state, was leading a team of 10 up Everest. Mazur stated they were at Camp 1, about 3,000 feet above the base camp, when the quake hit. At about 4:30 a.m. EST Mazur tweeted: “A massive earthquake just hit Everest. Basecamp has been severely damaged. Our team is caught in Camp 1. Please pray for everyone.”
He then tweeted at about 5:30 a.m. “Aftershock! Everest team is in camp 1, hanging on. Icefall route destroyed.”
According to MountEverest.net, Camp 1 is a “vast, flat area of endless snow, deep crevasses and mountain walls frequently washed by avalanches.” It is here that climbers catch their first real glimpse of Everest as they dodge in and out of large crevasse fields in whiteout conditions.
Dan Mazur, a 54 year-old mountaineering guide is a native of Illinois and is best remembered for his 1993 expedition in the book Three Cups of Tea and his daring rescue of an Australian climber in 2006.