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Lithuanian climber witnessed avalanche in Nepal that left nine dead and seven missing

Gelbėjimo operacija Nepale
AFP/„Scanpix“ nuotr. / Rescue operation in Nepal
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An avalanche hit climbers on a high Himalayan peak in Nepal on Sunday, leaving at least nine dead and seven others missing, officials said. Many of the climbers were French or German. Lithuanian climber Edita Nichols was also on the slopes of Mount Manaslu in northern Nepal, the eighth highest mountain in the world.

"We are all still shaken after what happened yesterday morning at the mountain. At about 4:30 AM, a big serac fell down the slope above camp 3 and triggered a huge blast and avalanche," Nichols shares on her blog on Monday. Her team was stationed at a lower camp and did not suffer casualties.

Edita Nichols in the Himalays
Edita Nichols in the Himalays

"I was already up and getting dressed in my tent with my tent mate, still sitting in my sleeping bag when I heard the blast. I told my tent mate that this must be an avalanche. She said, don’t worry we are safe. After a few seconds, a powerful force hit out tent and we were trying to hold it up as we were tumbling down.
Things happened so fast that there was no time to panic. There were so many thoughts that run through my mind and I thought we’ll get burried under the snow. Fortunately, the blast stopped and we were able to get out of the tent.

"All my group members survived and this was the best news ever. It took some time to find my gear all scattered in the avalanche. I was halfway dressed, so that was an advantage. However, my both boots were missing.

"To keep it warm, I was covered with the sleeping bag. My feet were still cold but it was nothing compared to those survivors at camp 3. Finally, the items were found one by one. My boots appeared. The only thing that was missing was my spot tracker.

"We are all now [Monday morning] safe at the base camp. There are 8 people confirmed dead and 3 missing. Many who were injured were evacuated to Kathmandu.

"This morning, three helicopters were making rotations up to the mountain to the base camp and to Sama Goan to retrieve the 8 bodies from the mountain. What a tragedy! It is an accident that couldn’t been predicted. It is nobody's fault. Our hearts and minds is with those who lost thier loved ones. We are lucky to survive.

"All teams are now working on their new plans. There is nobody going up the mountain until we have another puja ceremony for those who lost their lives. Our plan is to take another day off tomorrow and leave for the summit push on Wednesday. Our potential summit day would be on 30 September. The weather is still looking OK for that day."

Nichols is part of an international 8-people group, led by Phil Crampton from Great Britain, that set off for Mount Manaslu (8,156 metres) on 1 September.

When the avalanche hit, there were Italian, German and French teams on the mountain, with a total of 231 climbers and guides, but not all were at the higher camps, officials said.

Police said the bodies of a Nepalese guide and a German man were recovered and that rescue pilots had spotted seven other bodies on the slopes of Mount Manaslu.

Ten other climbers survived the avalanche but many were injured and were flown to hospitals by rescue helicopters.

The avalanche hit the climbers at a camp at 7,000 meters early in the morning as they were preparing to head toward the summit, which is 8,156 meters high.

It is currently the beginning of Nepal’s autumn mountaineering season. The autumn season comes right after the end of the monsoon rains, which make weather conditions unpredictable, and is not as popular among mountaineers as the spring season, when hundreds of climbers crowd the high Himalayan peaks.

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