You may or may not have heard that there was a small(ish) 5.4 earthquake 19km or so from Namche Bazaar at around local time.
I would love to be able to say that everything is fine and that we are unscathed … but it is with a huge sense of grief and loss that I have to report that Thundu Sherpa has died.
Thundu and Ciaran were heading for the summit of Ama Dablam and were above Camp 3 making good progress when the earthquake occurred and caused them to be hit by some dislodged pieces of ice, both of them sustaining injuries.
Without going in to the details too much Ciaran was battered and bruised but sadly Thundu suffered a head injury that meant that he didn’t survive. They were climbing as a pair, a metre or so from each other and both of them were very unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Five minutes either way and it would have just been a close call.
Ciaran managed to raise the alarm by radio and we immediately called our agent in Kathmandu who mustered a helicopter.
Meanwhile Jon and Lakpa Onju, because of their respective localities at the time, arrived on the scene within an hour of the call and were able to assist as much as possible.
The helicopter arrived at Base Camp and then flew up to the site to assess what was going to be the best course of action. When the helicopter returned to Base Camp they stripped the doors off, emptied out any excess weight and got ready to perform a long line rescue operation. A crew member went up attached to the line and after some delicate manoeuvring at 6,300m was able to detach himself at the site and hook Ciaran on to the line. Ciaran was brought down to Base Camp where he was given some medical treatment for his various injuries and the helicopter returned back to the site to bring down the long line guy with Thundu. Jon and Lakpa Onju then made their way back down the mountain.
The people at Base Camp (both staff and group members alike) worked in an exemplary manner. Some volunteered to go up to Camp 1 and Camp 2 to be in place for other duties that needed tending to. There were people monitoring the radio stations, taking notes to keep a record of events, making tea and coffee for the helicopter crew, administering first aid and generally working together as a team. Suffice to say that now the dust has settled everyone is in a deep sense of shock and saddened by our loss.
Thundu leaves behind a wife and 2 boys, aged 8 and 14, who live in Kathmandu. Whilst there is a modicum of insurance available for the family it won’t get the children through the rest of their schooling. To that end I am putting out an appeal for donations, however small, so that the family can rest assured that they aren’t going to face financial hardship. If you are able to help then please go to www.justgiving.com/timmosedale and mark your donation ‘For Thundu.’
On a final note – I would prefer not to receive any comments to the effect that a Climbing Sherpa has died whilst Westerners are pursuing their dreams. Ama Dablam is a climbers mountain and all the people in my team are suitably well qualified by experience to be here. The Climbing Sherpas are not being used and abused in the duties that they perform, they are proud of the work that they do and have worked for my Sirdar for many many years forming a close knit team. This was a tragic accident as a result of an act of nature. We are surrounded by an amazing panorama of massive mountains and when the earthquake happened there weren’t multiple avalanches and landslides. There was one incident … and our team were sadly involved.
Thundu Sherpa … you will be sadly missed. May you rest in peace.