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Reno Hiking Guide Tells Of Surviving Nepal Quake


Azim Afif/AP

The scene after an avalanche triggered by a massive earthquake swept across Everest Base Camp, Nepal.

All it took was 20 seconds and Nepal was devastated by its worst earthquake in 80 years.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the impoverished Himalayan country and left more than 8,000 people dead.

Melissa Kaida, a guide from Tusker Trail Adventures in Reno, was guiding more than a dozen people up one of Nepal’s famous mountain peaks.

Kaida and her group were at the last lodge on the trail at Gorak Shep, which is a two hour trek from the Mount Everest Base camp, their next stop, when the quake hit.

“The ground started to shake. It was more of a rolly movement. Everyone in the lodge realized what was happening. We all tried to run out of the building,” Kaida told KNPR’s State of Nevada.

Kaida said everyone knew the building was not safe because buildings in Nepal are not always well built. Shortly after leaving the building, the crowd could see the powder cloud from the avalanche that hit base camp and they could see it headed their way. The crowd that had run out, turned and ran back inside.

“The force of the wind shook the building. Everything around us was dusted in snow,” she said.

After the earthquake, cell phone service was gone along with most other means of communication. Most of the information was coming from Sherpas. Kaida said it took a while before they realized just how much damage the country had suffered.

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Some groups of hikers started back down the trial following the earthquake. Kaida and her group decided to stay because they were not sure what impact any aftershocks would have. When they did head down the mountain, the damage was not difficult to find.

“We saw rock slides across mountains, the trails were disturbed a lot of the buildings in each of the small towns had some structural damage for sure,” Kaida said.

The group was eventually airlifted out.  

Kaida’s group was supposed to be in base camp when the quake hit, but for several different reasons, they had not made it that far. The base camp was hit hard, at least 17 people were killed and another 37 hurt.

“I know that somebody or something up there was looking out for our group that day because we should have been at base camp when that hit,” Kaida said.

She feels especially bad for the people of Nepal who continued to be helpful even after they had lost so much in the quake.

“I think that’s what makes this earthquake in that region of the world so devastating because these people want to help so badly and yet they’re the ones who need the most help right now,” Kaida said.

This trip was her first time guiding a group to the Mount Everest Base Camp, and even though it did not turn out as planned, Kaida said she hoped to go back soon. 


Melissa Kaida, hiking guide, Tusker Trail Adventures 

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