The Daily Moraine 2015 #4 - Everest decision1 May 2015
It seems that the media is all very ready to tell the world that I have made a decision to continue to climb on Everest, when in my last newsletter I said that we would assess the situation: the ministry, the expedition operations association, my team, the Sherpas as well as the scale of the disaster in the whole country had to be considered. At that stage I had not made a decision as there were so many factors to be considered. Now having considered all facts, I can tell you that we will not be continuing any of our ascents in Nepal this season.
Yes I have attended many meetings here in Kathmandu with the Ministry of Tourism and Expedition Operators Association. Many operators not just Himalayan Experience have attended these meetings, and in general we as operators have been advising that the Everest season should not continue, due to safety, lack of logistics, and of course the dramatic situation in Nepal at present. But as is often the case in Nepal there are many points of view from government level, to operators, SPCC, HRA and the like to be considered. And also the wishes of our clients also need to be considered.
Yes our team is still at BC where they are actually comfortable and safe and have not been putting pressure on any of the rescue activities that are taking place in Nepal at this moment. In fact immediately after the avalanche at BC our team was very involved in the search and recovery of injured many who were treated by our own expedition doctor Anne Brants. Many of the injured spent the night in our two dining tents before being evacuated the following day. Anne tells me how hard it was to have people dyeing as she was trying to treat them. Our camp also became the home for many others who had lost their tents and infrastructure, and I believe it was only yesterday that the last of these people finally left our camp. I’d like to say thank you for the fantastic job they’ve done so far.
We also lost our main communications tent in the avalanche so this has not made it any easier for our team of guides who have been working so hard to help with rescue operations.
Most of our Sherpa staff have spent the last week at home making sure that their families are safe and making repairs to their damaged buildings. But all were willing to return and carry on climbing, so I also needed to take their point of view into account.
Currently members are packing and waiting for porters and yaks and also our Sherpa staff to arrive from the lower villages so as they can make an orderly return, trying to use the least amount of resources as possible. We have been considering to get everyone to Pheriche and then flying out to Ktm by MI17, this would put less pressure on the lodges and infrastructure going down to Lukla. But it seems unlikely that I can get an MI17 in the current situation, so it seems that everyone will need to walk to Lukla, so I do not expect that they will be back to Ktm until about 4 or 5 May. Now many of the operating hotels are full of media personnel or rescue teams, so there is still an accommodation problem here in Kathmandu.
Likewise, the Makalu team are slowly taking the Advanced Base Camp down to lower BC. There we will store equipment until the emergency situation in Nepal is over. All left over expedition food will be given to the local communities, as will all Everest food. However I still require helicopter evacuation for all members and staff from Makalu BC to Pheriche where they can meet with the Everest members again and for the Sherpa staff can finally get home.
It will still take a few days for my guides and Sherpa staff to take down our BC, so staff will not be out to Ktm for at least 2 weeks.
In the meanwhile we continue to search for the 3 missing Indonesian trekkers, 2 guides and 5 porters who were in the Langtang area. It appears that most injured and dead from this area have been transported to the road head, but there is very little news coming from this devastated area, so it will still take time to establish where these members are. This morning I was meeting with the Indonesian Army rescue team to plan on to how proceed with further searches.
We continue to support all of our staff and their families during this difficult time. Like many others, we will open a fund so as we can collect money which will be used to directly support all of our normal staff for reconstruction of their buildings.