Home Control Mission Swept Away in Everest Avalanche

What started out as a journey to prove Z-Wave technology can work at the top of the world quickly turned treacherous.

“It looks like an atomic bomb,” said veteran climber Mariusz Malkowski in a video he shot after an avalanche swept through his Mount Everest base camp. But even after it nearly took his life, he says he’ll return to climb the mountain again.

“You know, maybe I’m stubborn,” says Malkowski, technical services manager at Sigma Designs and member of the Z-Wave Alliance. “I’ve been climbing for 25 years. I’ve been through some scary situations before.”

He’s scaled Ama Dablam and Cho Oyu. And this April he climbed Everest as part of the Fibaro Mount Everest Challenge, to prove that home automation systems work even at 29,000 feet.

But this time Malkowski didn’t get to complete his mission. Days after he made his initial live connection from Everest at the Z-Wave Pavilion at ISC West, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake triggered a massive avalanche that swept down the mountainside.

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Everest avalanche damage at base camp two.
Everest avalanche damage at base camp two.

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Prayer Flags and Khumbu Icefall.
Prayer flags and Khumbu icefall.

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Damage in Kathmandu.
Damage in Kathmandu.

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Expedition flag in camp one.
Expedition flag in camp one.

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Helping people.
Helping people.

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Lhotse Face above camp two.
Lhotse Face above camp two.

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Malkowski waiting for helicopter.
Malkowski waiting for helicopter.

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RELATED: A Mountain of a Mission to Prove Home Control Works

So instead of preparing for his big mission at a higher elevation on May 16, he was helping severely injured people get medical attention.

“I was in my tent reading a book and the ground started to shake, so I went out outside to see what was going on,” he says. “Everybody was saying earthquake. “It lasted about 20 seconds, and then a I heard a big noise and saw a huge cloud of smoke coming at me.”

Thankfully, Malkowski had just returned to base camp a couple of days earlier. Otherwise he could have been stranded on the mountain, or worse.

“I am very lucky to be alive,” he says, “It kind of sinks in a little bit later because you go through scenarios of what could have happened. There were people around me who lost everything.”

Malkowski is certainly lucky and also thankful for the sponsors who got him home safely to his family in New Jersey within four days. Others waited up to four weeks.

And even though those few days were some of the most harrowing of his life, Malkowski says he’ll return to Everest as soon as next year to complete his expedition.

About The Author

Andrea Medeiros is editor-in-chief, multimedia director and content developer at TecHome Builder. She is a former TV news reporter turned home technology guru and is using her broadcast journalism skills to help our team deliver complicated, tech-focused content in a conversational way. She has a decade of experience in the editorial realm—interviewing, writing and editing stories as well as shooting, editing and producing video content. She is most interested in covering interoperability among smart devices.

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