Nepal Earthquake: Climbers Caught on Everest With No Way Down

The earthquake near Kathmandu triggered an avalanche on Mt. Everest.

ByABC News
April 26, 2015, 7:30 PM

— -- A group of U.S. climbers was caught climbing Mt. Everest when the earthquake and avalanche hit, and today found themselves with no way down.

Garrett Madison of Madison Mountaineering said the group managed to make it to Camp 2 after the avalanche, but they learned that their base camp had been devastated and one of their members, "our beloved doctor Eve Girawong" had died.

The group managed to get to Camp 2, but then found that the rest of the route down the mountain was impassable.

"We have been up here at Camp 2 hanging tough but we are running low on food and fuel and we have to get down," Madison said. "There's no path or route through the Khumbu icefall at this point in time. The teams that have tried to make their way through the icefall today were unsuccessful and it will not be attempting again in the future. So at this point our only option to get down is by helicopter evacuation."

He said they hoped to be able to make it to the lower Camp 1, where it would be possible for them to be evacuated by heicopter.

Madison's story was one of several coming off the world's highest peak after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake Saturday unleashed an avalanche that caught climbers just as the climbing season was nearing an end.

An avalanche was triggered by the powerful earthquake that hit Nepal, killing thousands.
An avalanche was triggered by the powerful earthquake that hit Nepal, killing thousands.

Ashleigh Stumler had just left a Nepali village near Mt. Everest when she said the ground started shaking so violently she thought she was having a dizzy spell and grabbed onto a tree, and then she heard the thunderous sound of a landslide.

Stumler, from Charlotte, North Carolina, said she and a woman from Washington, who were on a planned two-week trek, were not far from the village of Pheriche -- a lodge for climbers on their way to Mt. Everest Base Camp -- when the shaking started.

"At first I was confused on what was happening but holding onto a tree while the earth around us was violently shaking," Stumler told ABC News via email. "We heard a nearby landslide and started worrying about friends that we had met along the way."

The magnitude-7.8 quake toppled temples and triggered an avalanche on Mt. Everest. A magnitude-6.6 aftershock hit about an hour after the initial earthquake and smaller aftershocks followed in the region for hours.

Stumler was not injured and said she hopes to get to Kathmandu, Nepal's capital, to help provide support.

"The situation is feeling increasingly more serious than the moment I was clinging to a tree yesterday," she wrote. "Today's tremor seemed to put my body into some kind of survival mode while desperately trying to reach Lukla [a town with an airport less than 20 miles from Everest] in hopes of getting out."

Another survivor, Bhim Bahadur Khatri, told the Associated Press he was in a tent at Mt. Everest when the quake struck.

"We all rushed out to the open and the next moment a huge wall of snow just piled on me," he said. "I managed to dig out of what could easily have been my grave. I wiggled and used my hands as claws to dig as much as I could. I was suffocating, I could not breathe. But I knew I had to survive."

He was flown to Kathmandu and taken to a hospital, the AP reported.

The quake hit about 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu just before noon local time Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

At least 2,100 people have been killed in Nepal, the country's Interior Ministry told ABC News on Sunday.

More than 1,000 others were injured, said the country's finance minister, Ram Sharan Mahat.

At least 51 were also killed in India, 17 in Tibet, two in Bangladesh and two Chinese citizens died at the Nepal-China border.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.