South Lakes climber ready to abort Everest fund-raising climb after avalanche tragedy

Nick Talbot

Nick Talbot

First published in News The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A SOUTH Lakeland man is preparing to abort a £100,000 fundraising mission to conquer Everest after an avalanche killed 16 people, closing off the earth’s highest mountain.

Nick Talbot, 38, is one of about 330 overseas climbers currently 18,000ft up at Base Camp in Nepal after Sherpas went on strike and climbing ceased as a mark of respect for those killed on Good Friday.

His father Keith, 65, of Kentmere, said one of the Sherpas who died, Pasang Karma, was part of Nick’s expedition team while three other Sherpas his son knows were also flown to hospital in Kathmandu.

And Ambleside-based Adventure Peaks also has an expedition team on the north side of the mountain.

Good Friday’s avalanche sent ‘blocks of ice the size of cars’ down onto the Sherpas as they cleared the way for a number of expeditions to the summit, which start up again at this time of year for a two-month window to the top.

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Nick, who lives and works in London, was hoping to become the first person with Cystic Fibrosis to ever scale the 29,029ft peak (8,516m), but is now likely to try again another time.

Writing on his blog, Nick said: “Unfortunately many teams including mine are affected. “It seems a crevasse ladder broke causing a bottleneck whch was then regrettably hit by an avalanche. “Thoughts are with the families of all those concerned.”

Of the scene, he said: “This is one of the most dangerous places on the mountain leading to Camp One. “Danger comes from heavy ice avalanches from either side or collapsing pillars of ice within as well as crevasses.”

Nick expected to spend nine weeks in Nepal after seven months training in Switzerland, Austria, Wales and the Lakes; the latter with father.

Mr Talbot senior, and wife Gay, were alerted to the tragedy early on Friday morning when the director of the expedition rang them.

Mr Talbot said: “Clearly when someone rings you at that time and introduces themselves as being from the expedition your son is on, you know it is something serious. “I think Nick feels very frustrated but he is also very, very sad about the Sherpas he has got to know.”

Mr Talbot explained that a group of Elite Sherpas, also called Ice Doctors, had been clearing and preparing a route up the first ice wall.

Ladders, often several strung together, were put in position to help move food and supplies. But one broke and was taking some time to mend with other Sherpas joining to help and it put an unusually large group of them right in the path of disaster.

Mountaineer Alan Hinkes, who conquered Everest in 1996, said: “There has never been a bigger tragedy on Everest.

“Most Nepalese would only earn around 500 Nepalese rupees in a year and they can earn 10 to 20 times that in two months. “No-one is holding a gun to their heads and not everyone who does Mount Everest is multi-millionaires. The British companies organising these climbs don’t get much margins for it.”

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