Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade
Shanghai night field

Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade

Ron Nissen survived the avalanche at Everest’s base camp. Photo: Matt Wade

Nepal earthquake: How to donateNepal earthquake: shock turns to angerQuake: Riots break out in KathmanduLandslide buries trekking village, leaving 250 missingHundreds waiting to cremate the dead as the toll rises

Kathmandu: Many Australians had narrow escapes during the Nepal earthquake but few were luckier than Ron Nissen.

The 70-year-old Queenslander, from Cooroy on the Sunshine Coast, was at Everest base camp, having just returned from an attempt on the summit, when the quake triggered a deadly avalanche.

“We were sitting in the dining tent talking when we felt the earthquake start, we all rushed out . . . and there was a god-awful avalanche coming down,” he said.

“I dropped to the ground where I was standing and the avalanche just roared over the top of us. It was just the scariest thing.”

Snow, rocks and other debris flew past Mr Nissen at tremendous speed. “It was like lying next to a railway line with a freight train going past your head two inches away.”

Mr Nissen was covered in “about a foot of snow” but had nothing more than a few cuts and bruises.

Not everyone was so fortunate – the climbing team’s American doctor suffered critical injuries and died that night. At least 19 people were killed by the avalanche at Everest base camp including Australian climber Renu Fotedar.

“There was absolute devastation, everything was gone,” Mr Nissen said.

He and a few survivors from his climbing team had to scavenge through the snow for warm clothing and strong footwear. The group then walked for two hours to the closest village, Gorak Shep, where they found shelter. “It was a hell of an Anzac Day,” Mr Nissen said.

Three days later, Mr Nissen had another stroke of luck when he was able to get a seat on a helicopter back to Kathmandu. But the semi-retired engineer, said he left about $20,000 worth of climbing equipment buried in the snow.

Some Australians have been unable to get transport back to the Nepalese capital from remote Himalayan trekking areas. The Australian government is now aware of over 1400 Australians who were in Nepal at the time of the earthquake. Of those about 30 are still unaccounted for, although some of those may have left Nepal without telling the Australian embassy.

More than 100 Australians are expected to be airlifted out of Kathmandu later today on Australian military aircraft. Two RAAF C-17 heavy transport aircraft are due to deliver relief supplies to Kathmandu and then evacuate the stranded Australians.  Priority will be given to vulnerable people, especially those with injuries. Kathmandu airport has been heavily congested since the earthquake but many Australians have been able to leave on commercial flights.

About 80 Australians have been staying in tents in the embassy grounds since the earthquake hit.

Similar Posts