A group of Sonoma Valley Sherpas has announced plans for a benefit dinner to raise money for the families of Sherpa climbers killed in the April 18 avalanche that thundered through the Khumbu Icefall on the southeast side of Mt. Everest.
Sixteen Sherpas died in the avalanche, the deadliest accident in the 92 years people have been trying to reach the 29,035-foot summit of the world’s highest mountain. The accident triggered a Sherpa action to demand better compensation for families of accident victims, and ultimately led to the closure of the Everest climbing season in Nepal.
The icefall is considered the most dangerous part of an Everest climb, and the route through the unstable jumble of deep crevasses and giant ice seracs has been set by Sherpas for many years. Expert Sherpas working for an agency of the Nepalese government, in fact, oversee the placement of aluminum ladders used to cross the crevasses and scale seracs the size of houses.
The avalanche victims were among a group of high-altitude Sherpas who were carrying supplies through the icefall to Camps I and II. They were at about 19,000 feet when a wall of ice and snow came off the western ridge of the mountain and buried 16 of them. Three bodies have not been recovered and will presumably be carried down the glacier as it advances at a rate of about four feet a day.
Sonoma Sherpas, some of whom knew some of the victims, watched the unfolding tragedy online and vowed to help the victims’ families.