Surviving the Everest avalanche

2015-06-23 06:00
Photo: supplied
Rob Bentley survived the Mount Everest avalanche.

Photo: supplied Rob Bentley survived the Mount Everest avalanche.

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KLOOF’s Rob Bentley was one of the survivors of the massive avalanche on Mount Everest earlier this year, and will be offering insight into his survival at the next Friends of Kloof Library Forum talk on Wednesday 24 June at 6pm in the Kloof Junior Primary School Hall.

The 51-year-old will share chilling details about the tragedy which left 18 people dead and many injured on 25 April.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal caused extensive damage to Mount Everest’s base camp.

Bentley, a Pinetown businessman who had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro prior to this trip, said: “Sean Wisedale, the expedition leader, is a friend of mine. I contacted him and told him I am keen on climbing Everest, although I am not a climber.

“He agreed and appointed me the base camp manager and the logistics manager. Our team of five, which was part of the South African Mount Everest Expedition 2015, left on 22 March. We spent the first week in Kathmandu, just clearing all the equipment and goods through customs. We then flew from Kathmandu to an airport called Lukla. We thereafter hiked all the way to base camp, and that took us around eight days. During that time we passed through numerous villages and did a few climatisation exercises.”

He said the team was due to leave on the evening of 25 April.

“Around midday on the same day we were sitting in our communal tents, drinking coffee, and suddenly we felt the ground move. This was the start of the earthquake,” said Bentley.

“All we could hear was this horrendous noise of avalanches and we were all looking around, trying to establish where they were coming from.

“We then looked up and saw big boulders rolling down the hill, but fortunately they were going into a gully. While watching the boulders we turned around and saw this high and huge avalanche rolling down towards us.”

He said the four climbers bolted back into the tent.

“I ran to higher ground, and a plume of snow dust hit me from behind. I just flattened myself on the ground.

“Once everything fizzled out I went inside a tent, and at this stage I picked up my phone and videoed myself. The video went viral on Facebook and international news channels. I then found my team members. When we went to check on the rest of base camp we realised this was more than a minor avalanche and that there must have been fatalities.”

Bentley said he assisted in the first-aid tent and fortunately, was able to use a satellite phone to contact his family and let them know he was safe.

On 6 May, the team made the call to depart base camp after the Nepalese government officially closed Mount Everest.

Bentley has had a fascinating life and is an adventurer of note. Among other experiences, he spent almost four years sailing the oceans with his family on a yacht he bought in 2005.

Tickets for the talk will be available from Kloof Library on 031 764 7543 and cost R50 or R35 for members of Friends

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