Confusion, Chaos on Annapurna: Who is Missing, Who is Safe?

Mishaps are piling up as climbers descend from the summit of Annapurna. A few hours ago, a helicopter airlifted an Indian climber with AMS from Camp 3 in critical condition. (A second Indian climber was evacuated from Kangchenjunga for the same reason.)

On Annapurna, Captain Alaister Hopper performed the risky long-line rescue. He picked up the sick climber and carried him dangling from the helicopter to Base Camp, Kailash Helicopter Services reported. Once there, the climber continued by helicopter to the hospital in Kathmandu.

A helicopter lowers a stricken climber by long line. Photo: Kailash Helicopter Services


Missing climbers?

Lack of details and sketchy, sometimes conflicting information has created an intense rumor mill on the mountain. When Kristin Harila returned to Base Camp after her successful summit, she mentioned “missing climbers” on Instagram.

However, it is unclear whether she was referring to the Indian just rescued, who is sick but not missing, Gianpaolo Corona, or someone else. (See below.) News circulated yesterday that Corona was missing, but that turned out to be untrue. A helicopter spotted him today at 7,400m, seemingly healthy and descending under his own power. However, there is no further news on his whereabouts.

The concern is focused on both Corona and the other two climbers who went up without O2 or Sherpa support — Tim Bogdanov and Hans Wenzel. The three of them had hired Seven Summit Treks only for Base Camp logistics. Neither the agency nor SST expedition leader Chhang Dawa Sherpa has publicly spoken since announcing the summits yesterday.

As we mentioned earlier today, outfitters are cautious when trouble occurs on a mountain, at least until they notify the families. However, there comes a point when rumors from other climbers spread so widely that confusion escalates, and some response is necessary. We — and that includes the families, most of all — need to know not just who is in trouble, but who is safe.