German climber Jost Kobusch posted this video of the recent avalanche on Everest on YouTube.
“WE heard this most horrifying sound. It was like a train but came from so deep . . . and then finally there was this stillness, this complete stillness, and I knew I was alive,” AFP photographer Roberto Schmidt says of the moment he survived an avalanche on Everest.
Schmidt, AFP’s South Asia photo chief, and Kathmandu bureau chief Ammu Kannampilly had just reached Everest base camp on assignment on Saturday when an avalanche — triggered by the 7.8-magnitude quake that has killed more than 5 000 in Nepal — thundered down the mountain. After reaching the relative safety of Lukla town, the traditional gateway to Everest, they spoke of their recollections and recounted the scenes of carnage on the mountain where hundreds of climbers had gathered.
“We had just arrived after a nine-day trek. It’s a tough hike and difficult to comprehend the impact on your body but it’s an amazing place — truly breathtaking in both senses of the word.
“We hadn’t been there more than 10 minutes when we felt this rumbling, this moan. Ammu said to me: ‘What’s that?’ I said it’s the earth moving, it’s an avalanche.
“We went out of the tent and then we heard this most horrifying sound. It was like a train but came from so deep, just so powerful. It was so cloudy, Ammu went into the tent and I remember looking to my left and suddenly saw this, this wave, with the rumble and I just thought ‘holy sh*t’. It was so big, the pictures don’t really do it justice.
“I grabbed the camera. I got three shots and then it was right over us. I jumped in and went under the table. You have this wind and then it’s like a wave crashing, we were swept up. You don’t know whether you are upside down or what. You are just tumbling.
“Finally I came to, resting on my back and then I felt this tack, tack sound of falling rocks and you know I just felt ‘this is it. I’m going to be buried alive’.
“They kept on piling on top of me and then finally there was this stillness, this complete stillness, and I knew I was alive. I knew I was conscious and I had to work out how I was going to breathe.
“Then suddenly I felt this hand pulling me up and it was our sherpa Pasang. We were lucky as I think our tents were next to a rock which stopped us from being completely swept away.”