The Avalanche

I’ve had a very restless night. I feel I haven’t slept. I hear our Sirdar speaking to Ronnie but I’m not sure if we leaving to camp1 today. I close my eyes, they’ll wake me if we’re going. Our backpacks are packed for camp1.

It’s almost breakfast at 900am. I’m putting on my shoes. I’m a bit dissapointed that we haven’t gone but I know there’s a reason. Well go when we ready.

At breakfast Ronnie says our Sirdar, Pasang made a decision not to go to due to weather and that by 730am teams reaching camp1 had turned back to EBC due to the weather. We effectively got to sleep in. I thank Pasang later for this decision.

At breakfast we discuss strategies about rotations.

It’s cold and snowing with minimal visibility. It’s a funny day. I’ve slept in my clothes from yesterday as it was to cold to change and don’t feel like changing. I want to walk around and do something but instead I’m in my tent preparing updates for when im away on my next rotations to the higher camps.

At breakfast they say that it was so windy last night. I guess I must have slept as I don’t remember that.

I’m in my tent its so cozy in my -40 sleeping bag.

The next thing it’s shaking. I think it’s the wind I missed last night. Then I hear an avalanche, it’s a big one. We instinctively run outside when it’s a big one. I look back there is a huge cloud of snow pounding from Pumori behind us, like the dust left from race horses coming towards us. I look left the Sherpas are running down. I run down, not long there is snow in every direction. I crouch on my side. I have taken my jacket and tried to hide my face so I don’t breath in the snow. It’s getting harder to breath. It seems it’s quieter so I stand up everything is white. I try find shelter in the toilet tent. There is no toilet tent. I walk up to my tent gasping for breath with my hands outstretched to Alyssa my fellow Australian team mate. I think she sees the fear in me. She takes my hands and leads me to the group. My hair and fleece top is caked in ice. My hands are frozen, Alyssa gives me her -40 gloves. Where is Lars our Norwegian friend? His tent is higher….he comes out. He is safe. Our team is all safe. Again.

Our Sidar is precise. We leave. There will be aftershocks. Ronnie our Western leader says go pack. Our bags are pretty packed as we were leaving for camp1. I remove my down jacket and camp1 food and start stuffing in clothes, money, valuables.

Every little slight movement has us fearing another avalanche. Over and over we hear avalanches from Nupste opposite Pumori. There is minimal visibility. We feel our death. Alyssa’s tent is partially broken. Mine although torn in places and snow sinking the sides in, seems OK. The tent next to me is flattened. Our Liason officer left with only socks on his feet running down and only has his money bag with him. He has nothing else. Our kitchen tent, communications tent our dinning tent are all bent over. Our kitchen is a mess. Ronnie makes sure that our gas is taken off.

I frequently chock up. I am incapable of helping in the HRA and the people. The doctors are over 30min away from me. We don’t even know if they are OK as the midsection of basecamp is wiped out. In my heart I know I need to go down.

We have to go. We have to pass under Pumori who has just given such devestation. Lars has swopped backpacks with me as his is lighter. He pushes me uphill to get me going faster as it’s a struggle to breath. My glasses mist up with my buff over my mouth and nose. So it’s either snow blindness with no sun glasses or khumbu cough and possible pneumonia with no buff. I choose to wear sunglasses. Our whole over 2 hour trip is laden with rocks. Another earthquake and we could be hammered with rocks.

Lars gives me coke to drink. I can barely swallow and I spit it all out. Again overcome with emotion. Emotion we are all safe again,emotion for EBC chaos. Emotion for the people I can’t help. There are no helicopters as there is no visibility.

The walk carries on. Everything is covered in snow. We learn later that the snow came down the valley with the avalanche.

Gorak Shep is probably one of the worst places but today it’s our haven. It’s far from the mountains and in an open plane so the possibility of an avalanche is minimal.

We are all shell shocked. I have just entered the tea house and they ask for a doctor. I see the pt after shedding tears. It may be an open frature but he is ok. A vet gives me some antibiotics….yes they’re safe for humans.

I sit down again and again I’m called,this time it’s one of our boys. My eyes are blurry with tears but it’s a treatable injury. I’m called again but I loose the Sherpa who called me. I sit where they can find me and drink lemon tea. I sit next to Elizabeth and hold her hand. Another doctor comes in and I tell her I’ll help her in a few minutes. She disappears and I can’t find her now.

The ground shakes again. There is a rush to the door. We all go outside. We feel the tremor. All we do is look at each other. Our boys are safe with us but they go to a lower town. We have heard camp2 with Stuart and Neil our fellow team mates are safe. No word on camp1. We have friends in camp one.

A nurse comes to me and suggests that we find out about O2 and supplies. Yes we should make an inventory of help although no major casualty will have been able to walk 2hours lower down. I start going around asking if there are any medical support which I find. People give us there first aid kits. I meet a doctor who helped until the second avalanche. They were right near the doctors. The injuries piece me.

A teams tent who we heard was obliterated has 4 members here. I can’t believe they ok. I then realize I know the one guy who sits with a head injury and a broken nose. I can’t. ..I turn around and walk out. I do see him later and find out how he is.

I eventually found the polish doctor from way earlier. She has a triage room ready. I found a reliable source that says camp1 is fine.

I see another patient.

We go back to our tea houses. I order food but maybe eat 4 spoons. I just drink water that a kind gentleman gives me. We never ate lunch either.

We try sit next to the fire and warm our feet that never seem to warm. I wondered at what stage frost nip will set in on my walk to Gorak Shep as my feet were so cold even though I have new socks.

Later Ronnie and Elizabeth go to bed. I can’t even say see you tomorrow because I don’t know if I will.

There is a prediction for an aftershock at 0000. I wait up ready to run outside. The fire has restarted. We huddle for heat. We see Anshu and Churim earlier and I’m with them now. Dont want to fall asleep, I want to stay alive. It’s 1130pm there’s a tremor but we don’t move it’s mild. A whole Indian team has come down. They sleep all around downstairs in the dinningroom in fear.

It’s 1:30am now someone reports that world news says no more tremors. They should get better because it gets milder. I said to Anshu that there is nothing more we can do. She sleeps in the dinningroom. I go to sleep in my room. Its outside. There is access if another earthquake happens.

I leave the door unlocked and sleep I’m my boots incase I need to run outside.

I feel another tremor not sure what time.

It’s morning we are alive 26.4.15. Tendi calls me for breakfast. Melanie is here. We haven’t seen her from the first day. Thank goodness she’s OK.

The earth quake is predicted for 1200. 1200 comes and goes. We are more jovial this am.

Some of our team head off back to basecamp. I just can’t. All my gear is there. I just can’t. I just can’t, I’m way to frightened.

1300hrs the earth trembles,it takes a second and we’re all heading to the door. The earthshakes this time longer and harder than yesterday’s 1500 one. Our hearts are all racing. We hear avalanches but can’t really see, it’s a bit cloudy.

After some minutes we go inside. Suddenly Ronnie jumps up, our hearts are racing. It’s nothing. Not long after that I jump up, it’s the lady is cleaning the table causing the floor to move but it’s enough to set us off. The tea house is moving at any given opportunity or so our heightened senses feel.

We hear of more devestation on Kathmandu and surrounds. We hear of basecamp. We hear of more devestation lower down, tea houses that are damaged. Roads in Kathmandu that gave split.

Thank you praying for the people of Nepal and us all. Xxx

Well await good weather and head to EBC. Maybe tomorrow,maybe Tuesday or maybe not.

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