Sherpas rescue Slovakian climbers from Everest avalanche

KATHMANDU: After more than 16 hours of struggle above 7,000 metres on the Mt Everest, four Sherpas on Tuesday successfully rescued two foreign climbers who were trapped in an avalanche that struck the steep icy route on the world’s highest peak.

Four Sherpas - Mingma Gabu, Lakpa Thinduk, Ngima Dorchi and Ngima Wangdi – have conducted a rare rescue above the Camp II on the Mt Everest saving lives of Slovakian climbers Vladimír Štrba and Zoltán Pál, according to climbers and officials.

The climbers were trapped in an avalanche that hit the south-west face of Mt Everest at 7,200 metres on early Tuesday morning.

The Sherpas employed by Kathmandu-based Seven Summit Treks struggled throughout the day yesterday to bring the trapped climbers back to the Camp II from where they were airlifted to Kathmandu for treatment this morning.

Both climbers who were trapped in the icy slope had struggled for their lives hanging on a safety screw and carabiners for several hours.

“We had fixed the ropes (nearly 700 metre long) along the risky slope before bringing the climbers back to the safer place,” the rescuers who put their lives at risk to save the climbers reacted.

“We have been given a second lease of life by those brave boys,” Ganesh Thakuri, Managing Director at the Utmost Adventure Trekking quoted team leader Štrba as saying.

Liaison officer Shiva Sapkota from Everest Summiteers’ Association told THT Online over phone from the base camp that such rescue was rarely conducted in the climbing history.

But, Mingma Sherpa, owner of the Seven Summit Treks, has understood the incident quite differently.

“It is an answer to all commentators, especially to the international expedition operators, who explicitly raised questions over the capability of Nepali companies including Seven Summit which started handling a large number of expeditions on its own.“

READ ALSO: Plunging costs fuel safety fears on the world’s highest peak

According to him, his company has been accused of doing the business in a cheaper rate by employing inexperienced hands on the mountains. “Four mountain guides among 400 present in the region stood ahead to commence such a risky job because they know what the real climbing is, in this modern age,” he added.

All except Mingma Gabu (of Taplejung) are permanent residents of Makalu area in Sankhuwasabha district.

“How can they be labelled as inexperienced and cheaper ones?” Sherpa questioned. "Charging thousands of dollars can be a pure business, but we understand the value of service that our rescuers proved," he asserted.

“Our guys have really done an incredible job,” company’s co-owner Tashi Lakpa Sherpa, who is also the senior vice-president of Trekking Agents Association of Nepal, commented from the base camp.

According to Thakuri, both of them suffered minor injuries and are under medical observation at Vayoda Hospital in Kathmandu for few days.

Only two members of the ‘Everest Hard Way Utmost Expedition – 2016’ had decided to attempt to climb the Mt Everest this season from the south-west face, a rare route which was used by South Korean climber Young Seok Park seven years ago.

Most of the climbers often use the south-east face, the normal route, starting from the Camp II.

READ ALSO: Two Sherpa guides killed in Mt Makalu