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Nepal: trekkers suffered from a brutal weather change

A tragic Annapurnas tour

Last weekend, the very popular Trek of the Annapurnas in Nepal went terribly wrong. A snowstorm ravaged the area leading to the death of around forty people including close to twenty tourists.

Rédigé par A.B. translated by Joséphine Foucher le Mardi 21 Octobre 2014

The clients of Terres d’Aventure were able to turn back and avoid the catastrophe - DR: Terres d’Aventure.
The clients of Terres d’Aventure were able to turn back and avoid the catastrophe - DR: Terres d’Aventure.
The trek season in the Himalayas is at its peak every year during the month of October.

“This period, like Easter, is usually a dry season, meaning without snowfall”, explains Alain Capestan, President of Nomades Aventure.

Yet, last October 14th, a massive snowstorm ravaged part of the mountain range, especially around the Annapurnas.

The reason was the ascent of the Hudhud cyclone, from the coast of India towards the Himalayas “triggering strong rains in low altitude and a snowstorm on the slopes and summits,” reports

Some estimates noted[ 5 meters of snowfall]b cumulated in a few hours on the Thorong pass. If this information is verified then this is a record for this time of year in this region.

This brutal weather change restricted hundreds of trekkers, including many foreign tourists, who remained sheltered from the violent weather conditions and the rapid drop in temperatures.

More than forty victims according to last counts

Unfortunately, the cold and avalanches did not spare trekkers.

Since last Tuesday, “more than 500 people have been saved, but a provisional assessment reported around 43 victims,” according to the AFP that quotes the Association of Trekking Agencies of Nepal (TAAN.)

“We had a dozen groups there, adds Alain Capestan, who thankfully, had already crossed or changed itinerary.”

Same story for Terres d’Aventure, that had around one hundred clients there.

“Our clients were able to turn back, specifies Lionel Habasque, President of the TO. They were put out of harm’s way, cared for by our guides and carriers.”

As for Allibert Trekking, the tour operator had 6 groups directly affected by the weather conditions.

“As of today, we were able to get in contact with all of the group and be confirmed the smooth unfolding of the operations. Our local teams managed to shelter our clients in due time.

The routes supposed to traverse to the Thorong Pass (5,416 meters) had to be modified (…) The situation is more complicated for independent tourists.

Since they travel with their own means without using a local agency it is difficult to know who is safe and sound and who is still missing,” explains Didier Mille, Product Manager at Allibert.

The Annapurnas trek has become a highway

According to Lionel Habasque, the Annapurnas trek has become a true highway.

“Many tourists come solo and hire a guide once there or none at all. They have the possibility of staying in various accommodations during the whole tour, and they sleep where they find availability.

Even if it is very rare to be caught in the middle of a storm during this season, the trekkers are still in the high moutains.

They cross, among others, the Thorong Pass, which stands at close to 5,500 meters in altitude, and could possibly be dangerous.

It can become catastrophic if they don’t have the appropriate equipments or if they encounter a bad guide.”

At Terres d’Aventures, the guides are trained every year in accompanying tourists through the mountains, but also in healing clients, amongst other things, of mountain sickness.

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