MOUNTAIN climber Ellis Stewart has spoken of the moment he believed he would never see his wife and two young daughters again during the Nepal earthquake which caused deadly avalanches on Everest.
The 42-year-old adventurer is safely back in Hartlepool after surviving the death and destruction on Mount Everest following the natural disaster which has left thousands dead and injured.
The T-shirt printer, who lives on the town’s Bishop Cuthbert estate, recounted his story to the Hartlepool Mail.
Ellis and a friend had successfully reached Everest’s called Base Camp and were on their way to Camp One when they felt the earthquake.
He was on a stretch called the Khumbu Ice Fall - a notoriously dangerous strip of blocks of ice, some the height of houses, where a number of Sherpas were killed during an avalanche last year - when he said he felt it start to sway.
He said: “I was about half an hour from Camp One and I’d climbed up this last vertical ladder and I was stood on an ice shelf.
I thought, this is it, I’m never going to see my girls and my wife again. I thought I was going to leave two children fatherless.Mountain climber and earthquake survivor Ellis Stewart
“I suddenly felt the ice start to sway from side to side and then we started hearing all of these cracks and noises in the ice.
“I just assumed it was going to avalanche.
“My friend looked at me and said, ‘we need to run or we’re screwed’, but there was nowhere to run. I just feared for the worst and thought, ‘I’m about to be taken out here’.
“About 30 or 40 seconds later the whole thing stopped, but then what seem like another 40 seconds later we heard this almighty noise. We didn’t know it at the time but the earthquake had released an avalanche off the west shoulder of Everest.
“We couldn’t see anything because it was a complete white out, we could just hear it coming. When it did come it knocked us both to the ice.
“I turned my face into the ice with my head resting on my forearm to create an air pocket. We got covered in snow - enough to leave us unable to breathe.
“We thought we were going to be buried alive.
“I thought, this is it, I’m never going to see my girls and my wife again. I thought I was going to leave two children fatherless.”
He added: “After a few minutes we managed to stand up and get out of the snow, and we carried onto Camp One, we had no other choice.”
See tomorrow’s Mail for more.