, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 19 – The 39-year-old Kenyan man who set out to climb Mount Everest is safe following an avalanche which occurred on Friday killing 13 people in an area nicknamed the “popcorn field” due to ice boulders.
Steve Obayi who left the country to climb the 29,029-foot mountain for the first time was in a second team of climbers when the incident took place.
According to the company that is sponsoring his climb, following the accident, he together with other climbers are now in the base camp as they await an advisory from the Nepalese government on the rescue efforts.
“Steve is safe with other climbers and he is together with the second group of climbers who are at Mt Everest. The first group of climbers consisted mostly of guides who had gone ahead and they were the ones caught up in the avalanche,” the Marketing Manager Brighter Monday, the company which sponsored Obayi stated.
13 people have died in what is being described as one of the deadliest accident ever on the world’s highest peak.
The victims were among a large party of Sherpas who left Everest base camp before dawn, carrying tents, food and ropes to prepare camps for foreign clients ahead of the main climbing season, which starts later this month.
The avalanche occurred early Friday at an altitude of about 5,800 metres.
Dozens of guides were on the move when a huge block of ice broke off from a hanging glacier, before splitting into smaller chunks and barrelling down into the icefall, one of the most dangerous areas on the route to ascend Everest.
The ice “tumbled for several thousand feet, resulting in debris that came further out into the icefall”, according an account by the International Mountain Guides climbing company, which has a team stationed on the peak.
More than 300 people, most of them local guides, have died on Everest since the first summit by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in 1953.
President of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, a national body representing tourism promoters Tshering Sherpa said guides’ families would receive life insurance payments amounting to $10,000.
The previous worst accident on Everest occurred in 1996 when eight people were killed during a storm while attempting to summit the mountain.
In the past, some accidents have been blamed on overcrowding or on ill-prepared foreign climbers taking unnecessary risks to reach the summit before returning home.