NEPAL (CBS4)– A climber from Colorado is among the survivors on Mount Everest after an avalanche triggered by the earthquake that shook Nepal. Jim Davidson detailed his account of survival on CBS This Morning.
“At the time of the earthquake, I was camped with my teammates at Camp 1 which is approximately 20,000 feet on the side of Mt. Everest. We were resting in our tents when we heard an incredibly loud roar off to our left and we realized that an avalanche was on its way down,” said Davidson when describing the first indication that something was wrong.
Davidson talked with CBS This Morning by phone on Tuesday morning. He recounted what happened in the first moments he and his team knew something big was happening and also described his rescue.
“Quickly I grabbed my avalanche beacon and put it on and my hat and coat to stay warm and before we could get out of the tent all of a sudden the tent started vertically bouncing up and down, like a life raft in the ocean and we knew this was something extremely big and by the time we got out of the tent, the roar of the first avalanche was getting closer and then we heard an avalanche coming from the opposite direction and also ripping down towards our tent. So we were quite scared with nowhere to run.
“The sound of this was bigger than anything I’d ever heard. We couldn’t see anything because we were in a cloud bank at the time which made it even scarier. We just literally stood there, waiting for one or the other avalanche to come get us. Fortunately they ran out before they got to us by about a hundred yards.”
Davidson also detailed the rescue effort to bring those survivors and injured down from the mountain.
“The climbing teams and the Sherpa teams put together an incredible helicopter rescue. There were 140 people trapped up at Camp 1 where I was and Camp 2 combined and they flew these special high-altitude helicopters up. It’s so high that the helicopter has trouble flying so it can only take two people and small baggage. There were no seat belts, there were no seats, we just sat on the floor of the helicopter and they landed us at Base Camp so flight by flight after about 75 or 80 flights they got all of the people out of Camp 1 and Camp 2 yesterday.”
Davidson also talked about the next steps in his journey and that includes returning home safely.
“I’m at Everest Base Camp at about 17,300 feet. We haven’t had any aftershocks in probably about 36 hours so we’re very thankful for that. We’re still pretty exposed here, the glacier is right next to us and where the avalanche ripped through Base Camp a couple of days ago is just 100 meters from where I’m standing. It’s still a kind of very sober place, everybody’s had a traumatic experience… The community is trying to pull together. We’ve already taken care of the injured and the fatalities so now we’re just slowly disassembling Base Camp and figuring out how we’re going to get out of the mountains, how are we going to get to Kathmandu, who can we help along the way and there is a lot of uncertainty about how long it’s going to take to get out of the country.”
Davidson is an experienced climber who has summitted many tall mountains. He lives in Fort Collins where he is a motivational speaker. He also organizes climbing teams to ascent rigorous mountaineering expeditions.
He talked about waiting for help after the avalanches struck because they caused so much damage. Davidson said he and his team were rescued by helicopter after spending 48 hours at Camp 1 and then taken to Base Camp.
“So we knew that we were going to have to stay there for a while because the ice wall that we had just climbed to absolutely collapsed, taking all the ropes and all the ladders with it so we were sort of marooned up there.”
The U.S. State Department said at least four Americans have died in Nepal’s earthquake. Spokesman Jeff Rathke said all the U.S. citizens were killed at the Mount Everest base camp. He identified two as Thomas Ely Taplin, 61, and Vinh B. Truon.
Taplin is a documentary filmmaker from Colorado who was working on a film about the community of climbers at base camp and had been there only a short time when the magnitude-7.8 quake struck.
Taplin was born in Denver, studied and lived for a time in California, and returned to Colorado in 2010.
Eighteen people were killed by gusts of wind that blasted through Everest’s base camp during the temblor. The overall death toll from Saturday’s temblor is more than 4,000.