KATHMANDU – Search teams recovered a 13th body on Saturday from the snow and ice covering a dangerous climbing pass on Mount Everest, where an avalanche a day earlier swept over a group of Sherpa guides in the deadliest disaster on the world's highest peak.
Another three guides remained missing, and searchers were working quickly to find them in case weather conditions deteriorated, said Maddhu Sunan Burlakoti, head of the Nepal’s mountaineering department. But the painstaking effort involved testing the strength of newly fallen snow and using extra ropes, clamps and aluminum ladders to navigate the unstable field.
The avalanche barreled down a narrow climbing pass known as the “popcorn field” for its bulging chunks of ice on Friday. The 25-member group was the first making its way up this climbing season to dig paths and fix ropes for their foreign clients to use in attempting to reach the summit next month.
One of the survivors said that the path had been unstable just before the snow slide hit at an elevation near 5,800 meters. The area is considered particularly dangerous due to its steep slope and deep crevasses that cut through the snow and ice covering the pass year round. As soon as the avalanche occurred, rescuers, guides and climbers rushed to help, and all other climbing was suspended.
Earlier this year, Nepal announced several steps to better manage the heavy flow of climbers and speed up rescue operations. The steps included the dispatch of officials and security personnel to the base camp at (5,300 meters) 17,380 feet, where they will stay throughout the spring climbing season, which ends in May.