Skip to main content

Avalanche kills 12 in single deadliest accident on Mount Everest

By Ed Payne and Manesh Shrestha, CNN
updated 11:19 PM EDT, Sun April 20, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Four people remain missing, Nepal Tourism Ministry official says
  • The deadliest year on Mount Everest was 1996, when 15 people died
  • More than 300 climbers have been given permission to tackle Everest this spring
  • About 400 Sherpas will help them make the grueling ascent

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) -- A high-altitude avalanche Friday killed 12 Sherpa guides and seriously wounded three in the single deadliest accident on Mount Everest, officials said.

Four others are missing, said Madhu Sudan Burlakoti of Nepal's Tourism Ministry, adding that six people were injured in total.

A group of about 50 people, mostly Nepali Sherpas, were hit by the avalanche at more than 20,000 feet, said Tilak Ram Pandey of the ministry's mountaineering department.

The avalanche took place just above base camp in the Khumbu Ice Fall.

Deadliest accident on Mount Everest
Climber: Avalanche victim was my equal
Deadliest day on Mount Everest
Mount Everest is a journey that challenges human nature on every level. Sandra LeDuc captured this photo as climbers approached the Hillary Step, before the Everest summit. Click through our gallery to see more photos from climbers taken on Everest during 2012. Mount Everest is a journey that challenges human nature on every level. Sandra LeDuc captured this photo as climbers approached the Hillary Step, before the Everest summit. Click through our gallery to see more photos from climbers taken on Everest during 2012.
Everest: From base camp to the summit
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
>
>>
Everest: from base camp to the summit Everest: from base camp to the summit

The climbers were accounted for, Pandey said. "Rescue teams have gone ... to look for the missing."

Before Friday, the deadliest single-day toll was from an accident in May 1996, when eight climbers disappeared when a huge storm hit. Their tragic story was chronicled in Jon Krakauer's bestselling book "Into Thin Air."

Everest by the numbers

Readying for the climb

Between May 15 and 30 is usually the best window for reaching the 29,028-foot peak.

Climbers and guides had been setting the ropes for the route, acclimating to the climate and preparing the camps along the route when the avalanche hit Friday, said Gordon Janow with Alpine Ascents International in Seattle.

Climbers arrive in April to acclimate to the altitude before heading toward the summit of the world's highest mountain.

Ethnic Sherpas acts as guides for the mostly foreign clients.

Busiest season

The spring climbing season is the busiest of the year.

About 334 foreign climbers have been given permission to climb Everest over the next couple of months, with an estimated 400 Sherpas helping them, mountaineering official Dipendra Poudel said.

Until the late 1970s, only a handful of climbers reached the top each year. The number topped 100 for the first time in 1993. By 2004, it was more than 300. In 2012, the number was more than 500.

The deadliest year on Everest was 1996, when 15 people died. Another 12 climbers were killed in 2006.

Climbers, widow recount deadly traffic jam on Everest

On top of the world in 1963

Journalist Manesh Shrestha reported from Kathmandu and CNN's Ed Payne reported from Atlanta. CNN's Dave Alsup contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 5:51 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Inspirational, creepy or just weird? CNN meets the 51-year-old man who dresses like a schoolgirl.
updated 7:00 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material.
updated 7:12 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Yoga, meditation and watching a snake eat a frog alive: these are some of the experiences to be had at this Himalayan yoga retreat.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
updated 7:52 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
The world's largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China's Sichuan province, experts say.
ADVERTISEMENT