Oct 22, 2014
The biggest trekking tragedy in Nepal, Annapurna region has claimed at least 39 lives last week. Freezing whiteout conditions made the trekkers unable to see the trail to get down. Many survivors suffered from severe frostbite and will have to undergo amputations.
Sections of this popular trekking route were shut down on Sunday as the rescuers set out to reach the areas where helicopters couldn’t. According to Nepalese officials the rescue operation included hundreds of soldiers, policemen and local officials. The swift response was the reason why they were able to rescue over 500 trekkers.
Several weather services had predicted a category 4 hurricane in the Bay of Bengal with a path crossing the Annapurna area. Just in three days the storm had dumped six feet of snow on the mountains.
Could this have been avoided? Powerful storms are not an unseen sight in these regions. The Nepal government has reported that it failed to issue any warnings of sudden changes in weather conditions. In response they have stated that new rules, improved weather forecasts and better monitoring of trekkers should start to be implemented next spring. This means that trekkers will be required to take trained local guides with them.
A lot of things and people could be blamed; however it is useful to remember the fact that going trekking alone or without experienced Sherpa guides does make a substantial difference when things go wrong. These experienced mountain guides are the difference between having someone there who knows how to anticipate and respond to this type of situation or not.
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