Monday, April 27, 2015

High Altitude Rescue Helicopters at Mt. Everest

April 27, 2015. 
Day 14 of the 
Mt. Everest Expedition for 
Global Peace and Friendship.

Khumba Icefall

While supporters of the Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship await news regarding the team making this climb and subsequently trapped, possibly at Camp 1, it is good to read about Monday's rescue efforts.

USA Today reports:
Rescue helicopters, aided by mercifully clear weather, began pulling trapped climbers from treacherous perches on Mount Everest on Monday, two days after they were trapped at high altitudes following a powerful earthquake.

Hundreds were stuck on the world's highest mountain when avalanches triggered by Saturday's magnitude-7.8 quake swept across climbing routes and tumbled into the Everest Base Camp, where 18 were killed, including three Americans.

"We heard an awful noise" Expedition Leader Garrett Madison, whose group was on the mountain between Camp One and Camp Two, told NBC's Today Show. "We thought were going to get taken out."

Madison's group was transported Monday by helicopter to what was left of the base camp. Air crews were trying to rescue as many as 160 climbers, according to news release by Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International, which reported that all of its climbers and guides had been safely removed to Base Camp.

Those awaiting rescue were running out of fuel and food. The avalanche devastated what was an already treacherous route back to Base Camp through an area known as the Khumba Icefall, preventing climbers from descending, according to Madison.

Clear weather on Monday allowed at ;east six helicopters to reach altitudes of 20,000 feet and pluck stranded climbers from high up the mountain, Agence France-Press reported. Because of thinning atmosphere at that high altitude, each aircraft could only evacuate two people, Romanian climber Alex Gavan said on Twitter.

Small, high-performance Air Bus helicopters were being used to ferry climbers and guides from Camp One to Base Camp and then return for more to rescue, according to Eric Simonson of International Mountain Guides, which has people on Everest. Climbers at the loftier Camp Two were descending to Camp One for evacuation, he said. "We are hoping we can get everyone flown down today," he said earlier Monday.

China's official Xinhua News Agency reported than more than 400 climbers on the northern side of the mountain were safe and descending. All mountaineering had been canceled after the earthquake.

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