Eight Dead Near Nanda Devi

Climbing Mountain
Martin Moran on Nanda Devi East. Photo: High Mountain Guides

The seven men and one woman missing on an unclimbed 6,000m peak near Nanda Devi East (7,434m) are now presumed dead. The victims include British citizens Martin Moran, John McLaren, Rupert Whewell and Richard Payne, Americans Anthony Sudekum and Ronald Beimel, Australian Ruth McCance, and Chetan Pandey, an Indian Mountain Guide. Indian authorities spotted five bodies in an avalanche-swept area from the air on Monday, but poor weather has suspended the recovery operation.

The expedition consisted of 12 climbers in total, whose main goal was Nanda Devi East. The group split into two, with four climbers led by guide Mark Thomas heading to Nanda Devi East, and the eight victims, including guide Martin Moran, going to acclimatize on a nearby unclimbed peak (known only as Peak 6,447m).

The 12 expedition members en route to Base Camp. Photo: Reuters

Moran’s group checked in from their camp at 5,400m on May 25 and said they were going for the summit the next morning. When the team failed to return to the main Base Camp at Nanda Devi East, the alarm was raised. Mark Thomas scouted part of Peak 6447 and found avalanche debris and no sign of the missing eight. Bad weather then prevented an aerial search until Monday.

Peak 6477 from the South Ridge of Nanda Devi East. Photo: Pete Takeda

Climbers from across Britain have paid tribute to Mountain Guide Martin Moran, who had a legendary reputation among the UK climbing community. Moran had done many first ascents at home and abroad and was known as the guru of climbing in the Garwhal Himalaya. As an IFMGA guide, Moran mentored generations of aspiring guides and penned a number of influential climbing books. Kenton Cool wrote on social media: “He simply embraced the path less trodden and explored the deep unknown more than most and, as a result, he ‘lived’ more than most.”

A selection of Martin Moran’s climbing books. Photo: Highland Horizons/Twitter

Relevant Links

Eight Climbers Missing near Nanda Devi East

British Mountain Guides: Update – Incident Nanda Devi East

Video: The 2009 British/Indian Nanda Devi East and Changuch Expedition

Martin Moran: A Personal Perspective

About the Author

Ash Routen

Ash Routen

Ash is a postdoctoral scientist, globally published outdoor writer and arctic traveller. Ash's next expedition is a 700km trek along the coast of Baffin Island in 2020.

Read more at www.ashrouten.com

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Arun Mahajan
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Thanks for filling additional detail to this story. I have been following it with dread. I have climbed with Martin’s company on 5 Himalayan expeditions and 1 winter ice/mixed climbing week in Scotland. Of these 5 expeditions, Martin was himself on 3. In 2007, I was in the team that opened a new route on the 6000m+ Gangstang in the Indian Himalaya (Himachal) by the west face (Scottish IV and Alpine D-). Martin was an incredible climber and very knowledgeable. He worked constantly while on a trip. I have shared a tent and a rope with him many times and… Read more »