I’m sure some of you followed the First Ascent climb of Everest this spring. What some you you might not know is that John Griber and Twelve Point Media were also on the trip and the ones doing all the video work on the mountain. John’s been all over the world and on all kinds of adventures, but says one of his closest moments with death was on this last trip. Glad you’re still with us John and thanks for sharing your story…the pictures are impressive. –Steve
Red circle indicates John Griber’s location in the Khumbu Icefall when the serac fall occurred.
Here’s a series of photos I took four days after a similar serac collapse occurred on the West shoulder of Everest this year, filling the icefall, dusting base camp and nearly killing me as I traveled back to basecamp. On this particular day (when these photos were taken) the slide killed Lakpa Nuru Sherpa. He was from Thame village and had three children. His body was never found.
The route through the Khumbu Icafall this season followed easier ground and less crevassed terrain which require ladders to cross, but it hugged closer to the west shoulder of Everest then in previous years. This particular serac had been calving off pretty regularly, but never with the intensity or size as when it nearly got me. But as the season progressed and the days got longer and warmer, the serac had weakened enough to have two major slide events. During one of them, I was descending ahead of my group from camp 2 late morning on May 2. I was already toward the bottom of the icefall and past the last of the ladders when half of the serac balancing on the shoulder ripped off. I remember looking up and thinking…Is this the way I die?
It was an enormous wall, hundreds of feet high and wide, and moving hundreds of miles an hour. I was still clipped onto the fixed lines and behind a small serac about 20 feet high, so I just fell to my knees and braced myself. When the blast hit it sucked all the air from me. It was incredibly violent and a complete white out. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t been clipped in I would have been tumbled and pushed potentially into a crevasse. But, since I was clipped into the rope I only ended up a few feet down…but completely shaken. I was a wreck once I got to basecamp. I laid out my photos of Becca and Nevin (wife and son), and seriously considered coming home. I ended up going through the icefall two more times without incident and summitted on May 22nd. –John Griber