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I feared that ground would open up and swallow us: Mountaineer

I feared that ground would open up and swallow us: Mountaineer

Moments after the earthquake jolted Nepal, climbers of Mt Everest saw avalanches rushing down.

Jamshedpur: Moments after the earthquake jolted Nepal, climbers of Mt Everest saw avalanches rushing down from three sides with no place to hide, recounts mountaineer Hemant Gupta.

I was concerned that ground would open up into crevasse and swallow us. My heart stopped for a moment and I thought this is the end of my life, recollects Gupta, who was one among a number of Indians seeking to reach the top of the world when the trembler hit on April 25.

Gupta and Payo Murmu, both Tata Steel workers, had climbed upto Camp II at 21,000 ft at the time of the quake.

The two climbers abandoned their expedition and reached Delhi safely, Tata Steel Adventure Foundation (TSAF) said in Jamshedpur on Monday.

While Gupta has left for his home town in Rajasthan from Delhi, Murmu is likely to arrive in Jamshedpur on Wednesday.

Before starting for Rajasthan, Gupta described their horror to his mentor Bachendri Pal, the TSAF chief, who narrated their experience to reporters.

"I was having tea with David Liano of Mexico, Anish of Nepal, Bryan of Australia and sherpas when we felt the ground is shaking," Pal, the first Indian woman to scale Mt Everest, said quoting Gupta.

They first brushed it off thinking it a normal phenomenon but then the ground started shaking harder.

"As we were on a glacier, I was concerned that ground would open up into crevasse and swallow us. But, there was more danger to come and that was avalanches," said Gupta.

Then the first sound of avalanche was heard. There an avalanche on Lhotse face in the front, and another on Nuptse face on the east.

Lhotse is the world's fourth highest peak, while Nuptse lies two km West South West of the Everest.

"David shouted, watch out for the Everest face. If there is avalanche there, our camp and we all will be in real danger. It was like a prophecy as at the next moment we found huge debris coming down from the Everest face," he said.

"My heart stopped for a moment and I thought this is the end of my life. I tried to run but you can't run from an avalanche. Fortunately Camp II was located on a ridge and all the debris and snow mass from Everest face, went sideways and we were safe," said Gupta.

Visibility was low but it could be found that all tents in Camp II were safe.

Meanwhile, Payo was on her way to camp II with other climbers. They also felt the same shaking of ground. They were crossing a crevice and it was frightening moment, he stated.

"Till that time, we didn't know what has happened in base camp and Nepal. For us, camp II was safe.

"As we are coming down to camp I to spend the night there, the weather became bad to worse. It was a complete white out. We could not see 5 mt in front of us. We realised we were lost 6400 mt!! We couldn't see the trail and after a fresh snowfall, all the foot steps were gone.

"We were not able to see our path to camp I. The path between the two camps passes through a vast area full of crevices. It was difficult for Naga Dorjee sherpa to navigate the way. We somehow managed to return to Camp II," he said

After reaching Camp II, they came to know about the massive destruction in Nepal as well as the base camp, where 19 mountaineers were killed.

When finally they reached the base camp, it was not the same any more. Climbers were found dead or injured. Many camps and equipment were destroyed.

"There was no time, no resources. Sherpas had to go to return home to support their families. So, we have decided to call off the expedition," Pal quoted Gupta as saying.

first published:May 04, 2015, 19:29 IST