Sixteen Lives Lost Underscore The Dangers of Being A Sherpa

Niranjan Shrestha/AP

Last September Dorjee Khatri’s family begged him not to return to his job leading climbers up Mount Everest, after the father of three narrowly survived an avalanche that killed three other Sherpa guides.

Khatri, 46, had been buried with only one hand visible, yet came away without serious injury.

But seven months after his miraculous rescue, the lure of good pay and his passion for climbing the world’s highest peak proved too much for the scrappy, mustached Khatri to resist.

On April 18 he was ferrying loads of gear through Everest’s treacherous Khumbu Icefall when a glacier caved, sending blocks of ice the size of houses crashing on him and 15 other men.

“I could hear the screams over the radio,” recalls Garrett Madison, a Washington-based climbing guide who watched from base camp as a “tsunami of white” overtook everyone in its path.

Then an eerie silence from the radio.