Glen Plake, Greg Hill Survive Massive Avalanche in Nepal
At 4:45am Sunday morning, a massive avalanche swept down the face of Nepal's Manaslu, the world's eighth highest peak, burying teams of climbers and skiers as they lay sleeping at 7,000 meters (23,000 feet) in Camp 3. Glen Plake and Greg Hill, who were part of two separate teams attempting to ski the 8,000-plus-meter peak, survived, though
11 9 are confirmed dead and up to six people are still missing on the mountain. Among those missing are Plake's French teammates, Greg Costa and Arc'teryx athlete Rémy Lécluse.
International Mountain Guides has a team on the mountain, and confirmed the cause of the avalanche to be a serac fall, 600-700 meters across. "IMG Manaslu leader Mike Hamill reports that about 4:30am (local time) a serac fell triggering a slide that hit Camp 3. The IMG team is at Camp 2 and they are all safe and sound. Mike and several other guides are now responding to Camp 3 to assist. We’ll be waiting for more info."
Plake was in a tent with Costa when the avalanche struck, and sent this report to EpicTV:
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.
Mountaineers from Camp 2, including Greg Hill's Dynafit team and IMG's Hamill, rushed to Camp 3 to join the survivors in a frantic search for those who'd been buried.
Garrett Madison, a guide with Alpine Ascents International, told Outside: "We counted 11 total deceased or missing (UPDATE: As of Tuesday at 9am, only 9 have been confirmed dead). We were able to assist the French and German survivors some who were in pretty bad shape. We made a heli-pad and coordinated a rescue and evac'd about 15 people, and a few bodies. A lot of gear and a few bodies are still up there as the clouds moved in mid day.”
Those clouds caused the search to be temporarily suspended, but efforts continued early this morning. Reports are conflicting about who died and who's still missing, but officials aren't releasing the names of the dead until all the families have been notified.
The team of Plake, Lécluse and Costa was attempting to become the first to ski 26,759-foot Manaslu without supplemental oxygen. Hill’s team had its sights on skiing 26,906-foot Cho Oyu (the world’s sixth highest), but, like many other teams, refocused on Manaslu when the Chinese government closed Cho Oyu access to all foreigners. Thus, it's been a busier than normal fall season on Manaslu, which no doubt added to the deadliness of this particular avalanche.