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Cheshire mountaineer's account of Everest devastation

Alex Staniforth, 19, was attempting to summit Everest. Photo: Alex Staniforth

A 19-year-old mountaineer from Cheshire has described his experience of being on Everest as the earthquake hit. These are extracts from Alex Staniforth's blog.

Suddenly, I heard a stupendous crack and roar from the West Shoulder of Everest on my left that filled the valley and sickened my stomach. There was nowhere to run as a huge deafening rumble accelerated from above.

The fog was so thick I could barely see thirty metres ahead. But with my head down the roar closed in with a huge WHACK. Tonnes of snow went through me. It felt like someone had unleashed a snow cannon and wind tunnel from both directions.

For a split second I thought I was dead. I thought I would be buried for maybe 20 seconds but what felt like minutes, I thought about my family and disbelief that the end was here already. But relief set in as I could see again.

I couldn’t believe how lucky I’d been, but I wanted out of there and couldn’t have moved quicker. Two of my teammates, Aeneas and David, were ahead of me. My team leader Tim and friend Ellis were about 20 minutes behind, also shaken but unhurt.

– Alex Staniforth, mountaineer
Base Camp was devastated by an avalanche caused by the earthquake. Credit: Alex Staniforth

I collapsed, exhausted and shocked. I could barely move. The next day a huge tremor shook camp again. We weren’t safe. It was in our minds that an avalanche wiped out Camp 1 a few years earlier, but we were stuck.

Later in the afternoon it was established the icefall route had been damaged in the quake and we could not move down through. We learnt two of our staff had died at BC, others were on oxygen. Then we knew the next morning we were likely to be evacuated by helicopter. I was glad to get out.

– Alex Staniforth, mountaineer
Alex was about to attempt to summit Mount Everest. Credit: Alex Staniforth

Please please dig deep to help do your bit for the people of Nepal at this cataclysmic time. It could not have happened to more humble, grateful and welcoming people, I wish more people could meet them as I know they’d be compelled to help.

I will do all I can but that alone is not nearly enough. It doesn’t matter about Everest. Dreams can be replaced; lives cannot.

– Alex Staniforth, mountaineer