'What We Experienced Has Only Made Us Stronger. We Will be Back,' Say Everest Base Camp Survivors

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Mountaineers narrate the story of their survival when the avalanche hit the Everest base camp.

Kathmandu:  Pune mountaineer Kishor Dhankude wanted to climb Everest back to back from two sides - a feat no Indian has managed yet. He had already scaled the peak once. But what he managed last week was a tougher feat: cheating death. He was one of the scores of people who survived the monstrous avalanche - triggered by the Nepal earthquake - which wiped out at least 18 climbers at the Everest base camp.

Kishor and his fellow trekkers had just returned to the base camp from the Second Camp when the ground started shaking.

"I was the one who noticed it," said fellow climber Kuntal Joisher. But the others began teasing him, insisting he was hallucinating. But within seconds, the shaking became impossible to ignore.

"We knew something big was happening," said another mountaineer Sheikh Rafiq Tahir.

The group was relieved when the quake stopped. It had not crossed anyone's mind that the camp could be in danger.

"The base camp is considered a fortress of sorts. Avalanches never got there and it is considered a safe haven," said Kuntal.

Kuntal, Kishor, Taro and Rafiq were in fact, looking in the direction of Lola, when the avalanche hit from behind. With the force of a tsunami, the giant cloud of snow was on them within seconds.

"We didn't have time to think or react. We thought most likely, we were going to die," said Kuntal.

Even so, the group had managed to dash behind a tent, which was probably what saved them. Within seconds, the base camp was flattened.

"It looked like a war zone," said Kuntal. "Everything was gone. Tents were snowed in and our kitchen tent was destroyed. Our gear, whatever remained, was strewn all over the place," added Rafiq.

One of their friends, a German mountaineer, had left his video camera running. The five-minute footage has gone viral on YouTube, with over 2 million views.

But some of them are determined to go back. "I'm certain I'll be back again next year," said Kuntal.

"What we experienced has not discouraged us, only made us stronger. It will be my way of giving back to Nepal," added mountaineer Taro Yamagata from Japan. 

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