Steve Slaughter and his daughter Lauren pose for a photo at base camp near Mount Everest on Sunday.               Special to the Herald
Steve Slaughter and his daughter Lauren pose for a photo at base camp near Mount Everest on Sunday. Special to the Herald

Wetumpka native awaiting chance to summit Everest

Published 10:32am Thursday, April 24, 2014


Steve Slaughter is now in wait mode.

The Wetumpka native is among other climbers eagerly awaiting the chance to continue his trek up Mount Everest.

But will he make the climb in the wake of the recent tragic death of at least 13 Sherpas following a fatal avalanche last week?

Slaughter, who previously reached the summit of the world’s tallest mountain in 2010, reported he didn’t know when he and his team would get to climb, according to his blog post on Easter Sunday.

“Most of the Sherpa community has gone done to be with friends and family of the lost love ones,” he said. “We will continue to be ready when it is our time as we have already discussed some different alternatives if we get pressed for time.”

The 1980 Wetumpka High graduate and his daughter Lauren reached the mountain’s base camp one day before the deadly avalanche.

“My night started at 2 a.m. as I heard the Sherpas awake to head to up through the ice fall on their way to Camp 1,” Slaughter wrote on April 18. “I heard them leave about 2:30 and was off back to sleep as  I heard several avalanches all around throughout the night but the biggest one happened at  around 6:15 a.m., which brought most us out of our tents to see what is happening.”

An injured survivor told his relatives the path up the mountain was unstable just before the avalanche struck at an elevation just below 21,000 feet (6,400 meters). As soon as the avalanche hit, rescuers, guides and climbers rushed to help.

The avalanche struck ahead of the peak climbing season, when hundreds of climbers, guides and support crews were at Everest’s base camp preparing to climb to the summit when weather conditions are at their most favorable early next month. They had been setting up camps at higher altitudes, and guides were fixing routes and ropes on the slopes above.

The wall of snow and ice hit just below Camp 2, which sits at an elevation of 21,000 feet on the 29,036-foot mountain, said Ang Tshering of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

“It came out of the top of the ice fall and covered the entire ice fall all the way done to bottom.  At this time, we started to hear the talk of missing and injured Sherpa’s on the way up. Thankfully, we received word that our four Sherpa were above the worst of the avalanche and were able to make it safely back down to our camp.”

More than 4,000 climbers have summited Everest since 1953.

The worst recorded disaster on Everest had been a fierce blizzard on May 11, 1996, that caused the deaths of eight climbers.

Slaughter is an advanced mountain climber. He summited Mt. Fuji in 2002. The next year he conquered Mt. Kilimanjaro. In 2004 he topped Mt. Rainier in Washington state before summiting Mt. Everest in 2010.

At last count about 400 climbers and about 39 expedition teams are in limbo at base camp waiting for the all clear to continue up the mountain, according to a report from the Associated Press.

Slaughter’s daughter left base camp on Saturday, according to his blog.

— Peggy Blackburn contributed to this report.

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