Sunday, September 23, 2012

Massive Avy on Manaslu

Even by the horrific standards of horribly large and destructive avalanches in the Himalayas, this one sounds especially horrific -- here's a relatively current and complete report:

The confirmed (?) death toll appears to be nine so far, with possibly more to be added.

The avalanche apparently was caused by serac fall, and hit very early in the morning, when all the victims were still in camp.

This account from survivor Glen Plake is especially harrowing:

"It was 4:45a and I was in my sleeping bag with my headlamp on reading my devotional when we heard a roar. Greg looked at me and said, “That was a big gust of wind,” then a second later, “No, that was an avalanche.” Then it hit us. I was swept 300 meters over a serac and down the mountain and came to a stop still in my sleeping bag, still inside the tent, still with my headlamp on. We all went to sleep with avalanche transceivers on so I punched my way out of the tent and started searching. I searched for 10 minutes before I realized I was barefoot in the snow."

(And yes, Glen Plake, despite being known mainly for resort-based showmanship, has been an accomplished ski mountaineer for many years, long before its current popularity.)

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