Saturday 22 October 2016

Couple caught in Nepal earthquake describe running for their lives from deadly Everest avalanche

By Olivia Rudgard

Published 26/04/2015 | 14:17

Alex Schneider and Sam Chappatte on Mount Everest in 2014. Credit: Telegraph
Alex Schneider and Sam Chappatte on Mount Everest in 2014. Credit: Telegraph

A couple caught in a deadly avalanche on Mount Everest triggered by the earthquake which has devastated Nepal have written about their frightening ordeal.

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Alex Schneider and Sam Chappatte, both 28, updated their blog about climbing Everest to describe the moment the avalanche hit on Saturday morning.

In the post, titled 'Yesterday was very scary', the couple describe how they ran for their lives from an avalanche and managed to stop themselves being swept away by using ice axes as anchors.

The couple, who have been together since they were 15, said that the earthquake hit shortly after they entered their tents after an icefall crossing.

Dan Mazur, group leader for Summit, the company organising the couple's climb, shouted at them to get out of their tents with their ice axes as the avalanche approached.

It says: "We staggered out to see an avalanche coming straight at us. A blast of wind knocked us down but we were able to get up and run to shelter behind some tents and anchor ourselves with our axes.

Alex Schneider and Sam Chappatte
Alex Schneider and Sam Chappatte

"The wind was so strong that Pat was knocked down and pivoted on his axe. We focused on keeping an air hole so we could breathe in the powder. Dan was fantastic, shouting directions at us, keeping us together and strong."

They say their tents were only lightly covered so they were able to dig them out and move them to the middle of the valley, and describe being stranded in the snow as they waited to find out the full extent of the damage.

The blog says there were around 30 people in Camp One and the same number in Camp Two.

They added that they have heard that their section of Base Camp had been "flattened", and that helicopters had come to pick up the sick and injured.

The couple were able to get a message to friends and family via a mapping website on Saturday morning, saying "We are ok, all the group. Shaken at camp 1."

Group leader Mr Mazur was one of the first on the mountain to tweet about the earthquake, which measured 7.9 on the Richter scale, shortly after 9am on Saturday morning.

Camp One is at an altitude of 19,685ft, more than 2,000ft higher than base camp.

Several British people are feared missing and others are stranded after the earthquake, which has killed more than 2,200 people in Nepal, India and China, including 18 climbers who are thought to have been killed by the avalanche.

Poor communication networks have also meant companies running treks on the mountain have been unable to contact some of their groups.

An aftershock measuring 6.7 also struck this morning, triggering further avalanches. There was no information about any of the possible damage or victims from Sunday's aftershock.

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