Nick Talbot: At Base Camp
When the earthquake and avalanche struck, Nick Talbot was at Base Camp, relaxing inside his tent and writing in his journal. It was a rest day for Talbot and team, who were scheduled to go up to Camp 2 early the next morning. "The ground started to shake," Talbot says. "I've been in an earthquake before, so I knew what it was. Then there was a really huge crack." Talbot stuck his head out the tent and saw a giant tsunami of snow, ice, and rock heading straight toward him. "I knew then that I wouldn't be able to escape it, but was hoping I could minimize the impact if I ran," he says.
Talbot dashed out of his tent in socks, trousers, and a t-shirt, heading for the lower section of camp where there's more protection. He didn't make it far. "[The avalanche] hit me in the back, smashing me into the ground, into the rocks and ice," Talbot says. He remembers fearing suffocation, and struggling to stand up, only to be knocked down again. "It eventually calmed enough that I was able to stand and get my bearings," he says.
Talbot saw that he was bloodied, with cuts and bruises, and that his entire camp was gone, blown away. But he didn't initially realize that his ribs were broken. "I was worried about hypothermia, at that point," he says. "The pain wasn't so bad yet and I was walking around trying to find boots and clothes." He found two teammates, one who'd escaped uninjured, and one suffering from a smashed pelvis and arm. After finding medical attention for the man with the broken pelvis, Talbot found a tent with a sleeping bag and crawled inside. "Two people were helping, covering me with anything they could find," Talbot says. He shivered for a couple hours in that tent, but managed to stave off hypothermia. "I could hear avalanches continuing to come down and there were additional tremors," he says. "And that's when I realized my condition. I was in agony, it was really painful. I was lying there thinking, if there's something else coming for us, I don't think I'm going to be able to do much more than crawl out of this tent. And maybe that wasn't even worth it."
During all this, another teammate, Dan Fredinburg, died from his injuries, and the rest of the group decided it was too dangerous to remain at Base Camp. Talbot's able-bodied team members walked down to Gorak Shep, the nearest village. The rest moved to the lower section of camp, which was largely undamaged by the earthquake and avalanche. "Those teams welcomed us into their tents and gave us food," says Talbot. "But it was still a long, cold night."
Talbot was helicoptered back to Kathmandu the following morning, and is currently recovering at his home in London. He remains committed to raising money to fund Cystic Fibrosis research.