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Footsteps on the Mountain

May 17, 2014 3:53 pm, by Mark Horrell<< Return to blog home

The Everest avalanche: how did it happen?

Here’s an interesting little postscript to yesterday’s eyewitness account of the 18 April avalanche in the Khumbu Icefall.

After publishing my post yesterday I was contacted by one of my team mates in the Altitude Junkies team on Everest this year, Mel Huang from China. Mel has been studying before and after photographs of the West Shoulder and Khumbu Icefall in order to analyse precisely what happened.

We knew already the avalanche had been started by a chunk of ice breaking off the West Shoulder, which caused snow and ice to billow across the entire width of the icefall (captured in the photograph I published in yesterday’s post).

Mel has calculated that a 40m x 40m piece of serac fell away from the West Shoulder, approximately contained within the dotted yellow lines in the diagram below. The green feature points in the diagram did not change when the avalanche occurred.

Mel is from China, so the before shot is on the right, and the after shot on the left. You can click on the diagram to expand it to full screen size.

Many thanks to Mel for giving me permission to reproduce this diagram, which is dedicated to the 16 who died that day.

Before and after photographs of the 18 April avalanche on Everest, showing the precise location of the falling serac (Photo: Mel Huang)

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Comments (4)

  1. Pingback: The mother of all avalanches: an eyewitness account – Footsteps on the Mountain

    […] position where the ice serac fell away (for a more detail analysis of the position, see the photographs provided by my team mate, Mel Huang) […]

  2. Pingback: The Everest Base Camp summit meeting: an eyewitness account – Footsteps on the Mountain

    […] Just as some of them were boarding their helicopter, another chunk of ice broke off the West Shoulder in exactly the same location as the one that had triggered the fatal avalanche […]

  3. Pingback: Looking back on Everest as the dust settles – Footsteps on the Mountain

    […] There were one or two minor inaccuracies (for example, the Chinese climber who analysed the serac collapse was Mel from our team Altitude Junkies […]

  4. Pingback: Everest 2014-15: A personal tale of two tragedies – Footsteps on the Mountain

    […] But as we walked through Base Camp that morning there was a loud crack, and a huge chunk of ice detached from the West Shoulder. […]

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