“Had the avalanche continued for two more minutes, I would have died in the lap of my god, Mount Everest,” says Gautam Ghosh, 50, an assistant sub-inspector with Kolkata police who was part of an expedition team to the peak.
“As part of Everest expeditions for 10 years, I have seen avalanches earlier too, but never as deadly and as this one. We saw Everest come crashing down on us,” says Ghosh, his voice choking on the phone from a camp in Gorak Shep. Last year, an expedition he was part of had been called off after an avalanche killed a dozen Sherpas.
Ghosh and his team climbed down from their base camp to Gorak Shep camp on Sunday. “We were supposed to start climbing Friday but it was snowy and we waited for a day. At noon Saturday, as we approached Everest, we could feel a wave under our feet, then strong jolts. In seconds, Mount Everest came crashing down on us. I clung on tight. It was so suffocating. Snow boulders rolled down and I tried to save my head, covering it with the jacket. I thought I was dying and tried to remember everyone dear to me,” Ghosh said, pausing for breath.
“After the avalanche passed, I could not move my limbs or head for 10 minutes. When I managed to stand on my feet, I called out to my teammates. Coming down, I saw someone’s legs poking out of the snow, someone’s shoes, someone’s hands. I tried to dig them out but could not. We ran towards base camp. Nothing was there then. Yesterday, when we were climbing down, the Army carried 17 bodies to Kathmandu.”