Storms, serac falls, violent winds – what really happened to the 9 climbers killed on Mt. Gurja?

News comes in this week from a sad and tragic loss of nine climbers on Mount Gurja, in the Dhaulagiri area of the Himalayas.

 

Mount Gurja, South Korean Climbers, Dhaulagiri
Dhaulagiri Range, Nepal – Mt Gurja in clouds on left.

 

Led by highly experienced South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who climbed all the 8000 meter peaks without oxygen and in the shortest time, early reports attributed a range of factors.

From Storm devastated their Base Camp to It seems that a sérac broke.

Further articles indicated it was a Massive landslide, or a Heavy snowstorm followed by landslide.

And in perhaps a better conclusion based on rescuers reports, there was a Violent wind carrying chunks of ice.

With details still coming in, it would seem something more than a storm was possible, or maybe the storm triggered an event that devastated their Base Camp.

 

Everest, Khumbu Icefall
Inside the Khumbu Icefall, Everest

The result appears similar to the avalanche and ice that swept through Everest Base Camp in 2015. On Mt. Gurja, it was reported that tents and individuals were swept as much as a mile away from their Base Camp, indicating a massive amount of force.

As sad as this is to have what was also described as a ‘freak’ accident, it seems the rapidly changing mountain climate is perhaps becoming ever more unpredictable.

Assuming a traditional Base Camp site, an established route, or even an approach trek along a trail into the mountains is the best place to be needs to be reconsidered.

 

Aconcagua South Face
Collapsing ice cliffs on Aconcagua South Face. The route goes up the prominent rib just to the left of the avalanche, then directly up over the ice cliffs and reaches the summit ridge just right of the lowest point. Summit on the right skyline.

 

Ice melting, rocks shifting, heavy snowfalls and overall warming is literally changing the mountains structure. In the bigger mountain ranges, the distance a large serac fall and avalanche can cover and the forces they unleash are almost incomprehensible.

It is of course not just the Himalayas, but routes in mountains throughout the world, from the classic Cosmiques Ridge in the shadow of Mont Blanc, to the ever evolving Khumbu Icefall on Everest that are having to be rethought.

The mountains are now falling down in places we never previously expected.

 

Morocco, Toubkal
Descending from High Camp on Mount Toubkal, Morocco. An unforecast foot of snow in North Africa

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