Blizzard Kills Nine Indian Trekkers in Garhwal Himalaya

Bad weather trapped a group of 22 trekkers last week in the Shastratal Mayali area of Garhwal Himalaya. Nine died of cold during the following 24 hours.

The trekkers set off early on June 3 for a high-altitude hike to Shastra Tal Lake, located at 4,600m between Bhagirathi Valley to the west and the Bhilangana Valley in the east. The weather reportedly worsened as the group started back to camp in the afternoon. Eventually, they became stranded.

“The snow intensified into a blizzard,” Krishna Byre Gowda, a minister of Karnataka state, where the group was from, told NDTV. “By 6 pm, two trekkers succumbed to bad weather. Snow and wind made movement impossible. Visibility dropped to nil. They huddled together for the night on the route. More succumbed [during] the night.”

“We saw people dying in front of us as we took shelter under a big rock,” one of the 13 survivors told The Indian Express. “It was only after the rescue that we came to know we were just one hour from the base camp.”

According to witnesses, four people died during the first night. Some group members, comprising 19 trekkers and three guides, managed to return to Lambtal village the following day and asked for help. Helicopters found the stranded hikers on Wednesday, but by then, five more had died from hypothermia.

Uttarakhand is a northern Indian state bordering Tibet and Nepal. It features some of the most stunning natural sights in the Indian Himalaya, such as the Nanda Devi massif, the Garhwal mountains — the birthplace of the Ganges River — and the Valley of Flowers National Park.

Google maps whowing Northern India, and the borters with Tibet and Nepal

Uttarakhand on Google Maps.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.