Garhwal Avalanche Death Toll Keeps Increasing

The search for victims continues on a 6,000m peak in northern India, in what has become one of the worst tragedies in the history of mountaineering.

On Monday, an avalanche on Draupadi Ka Danda II struck a large group of 41 trainees and their instructors from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. According to the Institute’s latest report, 26 bodies have been recovered and three more trainees remain missing.

The group was climbing the roughly 6,000m peak as part of an advanced mountaineering course. They left base camp at 3:30 am, and the avalanche struck at 8:30 am when they were just 150m from the summit.

“The avalanche was so massive that we did not even get any time to think of anything,” survivor Rohit Bhatt told Asianet News. “If we had even 10 seconds, we could have saved more lives.”

He explained that the slide swept the group down into a gorge. Bhatt had time to plant his ice ax, which saved his life.

a rescuer, arms outstretched, guides a helicopter down

Frame from a video taken during the rescue.

 

The surviving mountaineers did their best to aid the victims. All the Institute’s available students and instructors went to assist. Soon, the State Disaster Response Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, and the Indian Air Force joined in. The search will continue tomorrow for the three trainees still missing.

Two instructors perished in the avalanche, including Everest and Makalu summiter Savita Kanswal.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer 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.