Avalanche Kills Nine in Nepal

Mountain
An avalanche has destroyed the base camp of Mt Gurja, near Annapurna. Photo: Ilan Adler

Four Nepali Sherpas and five Korean climbers have died in an avalanche on Mt. Gurja (7,193m) in western Nepal. A heavy snowstorm preceded the avalanche. It buried their base camp at 3,500m, where the group had been waiting for better weather to climb higher up the mountain.

This is the deadliest mountaineering accident in Nepal since the 2014 and 2015 Everest avalanches.

Base camp was completely destroyed, leaving behind eight bodies and one missing and presumed dead climber, believed to be a Sherpa. Gurja is located in the Annapurna region, close to Dhaulagiri, which itself is particularly avalanche-prone.

Among the dead was well-known Korean climber Kim Chang-ho. Chang-ho was the first Korean to climb all 14 8000’ers without oxygen, and was also the fastest person to complete that daunting list. He took 7 years, 10 months and 6 days, a month quicker than the previous fastest time, set by Polish legend Jerzy Kukuczka.

Chang-ho had a long list of additional accomplishments, including the second ascent of the south-southeast spur (aka Messner Route) on the Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat. He cycled and canoed from the Bay of Bengal to Everest Base Camp before his successful climb of the mountain.

According to the Himalayan Database, the last person to summit Mt. Gurja did so in 1996.

Confirmed Fatalities
Chhiring Bhote, Lakpa Sangbu Bhote, Natra Bahadur Chantel, and Phurbu Bhote (all Nepal). Lee Jaehun, Rim Il-jin, Yoo Youngjik, Jeong Joon-mo and Kim Chang-ho (all Korea).

About the Author

Ash Routen

Ash Routen

Ash is an outdoor and adventure writer with a PhD in Exercise Science. He lives in the UK and has also written for Rock and Ice, Outside, UK Climbing etc. He recently led a 634km foot crossing of a frozen Lake Baikal in Siberia. See more at www.ashrouten.com.

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The four dead Nepalis are not Sherpas, neither ethnically nor occupanionally. Chhring Bhote, Sangbu and Phurbu were certainly kitchen staff, as longtime partners with the leader Kim, while Mr. Chantel was apparently hired locally for carrying loads and other subsidiary roles, due to the regulation of the region that any climbing party must accompany domestic climbers.