As if the rising death toll on Everest this year wasn’t enough, now eight climbers have gone missing in the Indian Himalayas. Four Britons, two Americans, an Australian, and an Indian have gone missing on Nanda Devi, India’s second highest peak, after the mountain was believed to have been hit by multiple avalanches. They have not been heard from since May 26, one day before the avalanche. Now, five bodies have been spotted along the same route the climbers had taken, though retrieving and identifying the bodies from such dangerous terrain will prove difficult as helicopters can’t land there.
Four other climbers who were part of the same group were rescued on Sunday; they turned back early due to the weather, and were the last ones to have communicated with the now-missing climbers. The group was being led by Martin Moran, an experienced British mountain guide, who is among the missing. Others include John McLaren, Rupert Whewell, and Richard Payne from the UK; Anthony Sudekum and Ronald Beimel from the US; Ruth McCance from Australia; and Indian guide Chetan Pandey.
Unfortunately, rescue workers are now operating under the assumption that all eight climbers have been killed, and expect to find the remaining three bodies near the first five. The rescue effort is slow-going, however. According to Vivek Kumar Pandey, a spokesperson for the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, “Even if we airdrop someone, he will need at least six to eight days to acclimatize before he can undertake any rescue mission.”