SA woman’s quest stalled by avalanche

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Copy of st everest (41451698) Supplied South African climbers Saray Khumalo and Sibusiso Vilane from Buntu Everest reached the peak of Lobuche East on Sunday. This peak is on the standard southeast route up Everest and is one of the last stops on the way to the Everest Base Camp.

Johannesburg - Saray Khumalo’s bid to become the first black woman to reach the world’s highest peak is in the balance as her expedition is considering pulling out after a deadly avalanche.

Yesterday morning, the Facebook page which gives updates of local mountaineers Khumalo and Sibusiso Vilane’s expedition said they were on their way to the Everest Base Camp (EBC).

“There is talk of another avalanche if the remaining block of ice from Friday will come loose,” the Ubuntu Everest page said. “There was a meeting with the Sherpa community on Sunday at EBC to determine the way forward. Saray will keep us updated,” the page said.

This followed an ice avalanche on Friday which killed 13 guides when it smashed into their expedition. Nine people were plucked to safety.

News agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on Sunday that the search for the missing Nepalese guides had been suspended because of bad weather.

Khumalo, a Joburger hoping to be the first black woman to summit Everest, and Vilane reached the summit of Lobuche East on their way to the EBC.

Lobuche East is on the standard south-east route up Everest and is one of the last stops on the way to the EBC.

“According to Asian Trekking, the operator Saray and Sibusiso are using, no final decision regarding the continuation of the climbing season has been taken. We will keep you updated,” Ubuntu Everest wrote this morning.

Photos of Khumalo with a group of people holding the South African flag at Lobuche East were posted on the Facebook page on Sunday.

The caption reads: “Saray at Lobuche East. Ubuntu Everest summited Lobuche East peak on Sunday 20 April 2014. Thanks for all the prayers and support. Now it is off to base camp.”

City Press reported on Sunday that the two were at base camp on Friday morning when the avalanche occurred at about 500m further up the mountain.

Vilane, the first black African person to climb Everest, sent a message soon afterwards to say that he and his fellow South African climbers were safe.

On Monday, AFP reported that expedition leaders threatened to cancel all climbing on Everest.

“The climbing community is taking stock and is coming to terms with the worst tragedy on the mountain,” the Ubuntu Everest page posted last week.

The Star

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