Manaslu: Stricken Climbers Now Safely Off the Mountain

All the climbers injured in yesterday’s avalanche below Camp 4 have been successfully evacuated. Taking advantage of the improved weather, helicopters airlifted at least four climbers down from near Camp 3.

They also brought those injured climbers taken yesterday to Samagaon to the hospital in Kathmandu.

Manaslu slope with a wide area circled in red.

Tshering Pande Bhote’s photo of where the avalanche occurred. Shared by Nepal’s National Mountain Guide Association (NNMGA)

 

The first personal accounts of the calamity are now being shared on social media. Photographer Gabriel Tarso , a member in Elite Exped team, somehow escaped the slide and unburied his Sherpa guide Dawa from beneath the snow. Tarso posted the harrowing moments in the video below.

Tarso is working with Brazilian trail runner Fernanda Maciel. Both turned around shortly after leaving Camp 3 yesterday. Moments later, the avalanche buried the route.

Maciel wrote that Tarso also recovered the body of Anup Rai, the only climber confirmed dead so far. Rai was working with Satori Adventures.

 

Hilaree Nelson search unsuccessful

Back in Base Camp, Maciel helped Jim Morrison track down an available helicopter to search for his partner Hilaree Nelson, who disappeared during her ski descent. Bad weather prevented a search yesterday, but today a helicopter left Base Camp at 7:30 am, with Morrison on board.

Unfortunately, they found no trace of the skier, and eventually called off the search for the day. They will try again tomorrow, Jiban Ghimire of Shangri-La Treks told Everest Chronicle.

Ghimire said that the accident took place when Nelson lost an edge a few metres below the summit and she fell off the other, vertical side of the peak. He added that “it could be an estimated 3,000m free fall” from that side.

 

Black and white portrait of Fernanda Maciel, Jim Morrison, and Hilaree Nelson

Happier days: Fernanda Maciel poses with Jim Morrison and Hilaree Nelson. Photo: Fernanda Maciel/Instagram

 

Unsung heroes

Pilots coped with extremely difficult flying conditions to airlift the critically injured from Camp 3 at 6,888m, as shown in this video shared by Pasang Rinzee. One of the helicopters became grounded right behind Camp 2, and its pilot, Captain Kamal, had to spend the night there. This morning, he managed to take off and made it safely to Samagaon.

Nirmal Purja gave a special shout-out to Captain Sudendra Paudel of Simrik Air. The pilot rescued two critically injured Sherpas yesterday and airlifted three more climbers from Camp 3 and two others from Camp 2. The condition and names of the stricken climbers are unknown at present.

Captain Sudendra Paudel, taken during a previous flight from Singapore to Kathmandu.

 

Ropes replaced

Purja also confirmed that his rope-fixing team managed to re-install the ropes that the avalanche had carried away. That allowed climbers stuck in Camp 4 to resume their descent. It will also permit a significant number of other climbers to continue with their plans. The summit push, it seems, is far from over.

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.