Nelson’s Tim Rippel unharmed in Everest avalanche

A Nelson man is watching the aftermath of the deadliest-ever slide on Mount Everest. - Courtesy
A Nelson man is watching the aftermath of the deadliest-ever slide on Mount Everest.
— image credit: Courtesy

A Nelson climber was not involved in the deadliest-ever avalanche on Mount Everest early Friday but says “a lot of soul searching” is going on.

Tim Rippel of Peak Freaks Expeditions wrote on his blog that all their staff and members are fine and none were involved in the slide on the world’s highest peak which claimed the lives of at least 12 Nepalese guides. Four others are missing.

Rippel, who has made nearly 50 Himalayan expeditions and finally reached Everest’s summit on his eighth attempt in 2008, is at the Everett base camp.

“Everyone is shaken here,” he said. “Some climbers are packing up and calling it quits. They want nothing to do with this. Reality has set in.”

Rippel wrote that he met with his Sherpa crew and told them all to go home and call it a season if they wanted, with full pay. However, they all want to stay — even a couple who came close to being victims themselves.

The pair dropped their loads and retreated to the base camp just minutes before the slide hit. Two other Peak Freak guides were above the avalanche and just starting to make their way down. They were briefly trapped and had to remake the route and fix ladders to get down, Rippel wrote.

Contrary to news reports, Rippel said the route had already been fixed and the Sherpas were starting to haul equipment up to stock camps.

A meeting was held at the base camp today with expedition leaders and outspoken Sherpas. Rippel said they are unimpressed with Nepal’s government, which makes over $100 million a year from Everest climbs, yet “the amount allotted for families when something goes wrong does not make sense.”

“A time of healing and re-thinking has been asked for,” Rippel continued, adding that the Sherpas have asked for four days of no climbing and operators have agreed.

“Time for sleep and try to digest all that has gone on today. Everyone agrees Everest 2014 is shaping up to be the worst season in history for complications and for deaths it’s already surpassed previous records in one event.”

In an earlier blog posting, Rippel’s wife Becky explained that Tim instructed all of his members and Sherpas to call home to tell their families they were okay. She was talking to Tim on the phone when the slide happened.

“This event has sent shivers throughout the Khumbu,” she said. “Everyone is rattled by this tragic event.”

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