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PRESS STATEMENT: Situation of Khumbu Icefall Route After Earthquake

The Icefall Doctors team and SPCC Chairperson Ang Dorjee Sherpa have conducted a survey of the situation at Everest Base Camp and the Khumbu Icefall, and have now advised the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation and concerned stakeholders not to take further risks by continuing work on the mountain.

After thorough assessment of the damage at Base Camp and the Icefall caused by the massive earthquake and avalanche of 25th April 2015, the SPCC has concluded that the risk of setting a route in the current situation cannot be taken. This decision was made with several factors in mind:

• Any possible efforts on the Icefall would take a minimum of two weeks from commencement of work to even establish the route to Camp II. Given the narrow window of time before rising temperatures and early monsoon weather conditions make Everest climbing impossible, it seems unlikely that the route could be set in time to enable summits. Historically, in most Spring seasons by this point climbers would already have been approaching the South Col.

• All medical teams including the Himalayan Rescue Association have already left Base Camp for the season, and it is inadvisable to carry on with work given the increased risk of aftershocks and an exceptionally unstable Icefall without medical support in case of emergencies.

• During the avalanche on 25 April, SPCC’s Base Camp and camps of many other commercial expeditions were completely swept away. Currently, there is a lack of adequate equipment and supplies needed to begin resetting of the Icefall route immediately.

• The SPCC Icefall Doctors are only responsible for setting the route until Camp II. Conversations for the teams that would be responsible for setting the route above that indicate that they also do not have sufficient equipment and resources to do this rope fixing. Therefore, even if the SPCC were to set the route across the Icefall and up to Camp II, there may not be sufficient human resources and time to set routes to the summit.

• Many camps on Everest were swept away by the avalanche. This debris will now need to be retrieved and removed before it is absorbed by the glacier. This cleanup will be the SPCC’s top priority and it will take couple of weeks to clear all the debris from the glacier.

Finally, and most importantly, majority of the climbers have already called off their expeditions and many of the Icefall Doctors as well as the local support staff in the remaining expedition teams have suffered heartbreaking family deaths or injuries as well as earthquake-related damage to property and need to be with their communities at this time. The SPCC has also recommended to the Government of Nepal to honour the climbing permits of those who were on Everest Expeditions in 2015 with an extension into the year 2016.

This is an unprecedented national tragedy; the SPCC expresses heartfelt condolences for those who have suffered loss both on Everest and around the country.

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