The pristine beauty along with a chance to stand atop some of the highest peaks in the world, makes trekking the Himalayan Mountains an experience unlike any other; yet the risks often go understated. This week’s freak accident has claimed the lives of 28 people trekking through the mountains – a tragedy being felt worldwide and leaving many in shock less than one year after Mt Everest experienced it’s worst tragedy in history.
The accident appears to be due to heavy snowfall, a very unusual occurrence during the climbing season. The highest number of deaths took place at the Thorung La Pass, one of the highest points of the 21-day Annapurna circuit. Officials believe those who died became trapped in the snow, unable to seek cover at extremely high altitudes. Initial reports on casualties were 17 but now that number has jumped to 28. And it is still unclear as to how many people could still be out there.
This is a very personal story for us here at Maracaibo because one of our clients is world class mountaineer, Adrian Ballinger. And while Adrian was not in Nepal at the time, the climbing world is a very close knit family, and all are affected by news like this. Our hearts and prayers go out to everyone who is suffering from this latest tragedy.
And with everyone else, we pray that search bring home more survivors. Of those found, alive, many are now being treated for hypothermia and frostbite at local hospitals. In spite of the tragedy, search teams have now rescued a total of 226 people, with more expected to be found in the days ahead.
A blizzard like this shows just how unpredictable nature can be. Nepal, home of Mount Everest, brings tens of thousands to the area each year during the climbing season. The tourist attraction has been a major source of income and employment for Nepali communities. Yet, a tragedy like this could change everything. This catastrophe comes only six months after a major avalanche at Mount Everest, killed 16 locals.