Life-and-Death Choices in a Himalayan Blizzard

KATMANDU, Nepal — Freezing, exhausted and blinded by snow, Yakov Megreli, an Israeli medical student, had a few minutes to make a choice.

He could spend the night shivering in a flimsy wooden tea stall with a few others, as snowdrifts crept up the walls outside and began to fall in through cracks. Or he could press forward into the blizzard with a large group of trekkers headed toward town and led by the tea shop’s owner, who promised to help them to safety if they each paid him 1,000 rupees, about $10.

Mr. Megreli, 24, cannot quite explain why he stayed behind in the wooden shack on Tuesday night, but that is probably why he was alive on Thursday, a survivor of the worst trekking disaster to hit Nepal’s Himalayas in recent memory.

Bhadra Sharma and Rajneesh Bhandari reported from Katmandu, and Ellen Barry from New Delhi. Nida Najar and Hari Kumar contributed reporting from New Delhi.

A version of this article appears in print on October 17, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Life-and-Death Choices in a Himalayan Blizzard.

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