Mingma G: No Airlifts On Kangchenjunga

Confusing reports and a previous rescue operation had suggested that some climbers on Kangchenjunga might had been airlifted to Camp 2. To clear this up, we managed to reach Mingma G, leader of the Imagine Nepal team. He also led the rope fixers and two summit pushes. He added many details about those days on the mountain. No one was airlifted to Camp 2 when he was there, he told ExplorersWeb.

“All my team climbed on their own resources,” Mingma G said. “I haven’t seen anyone being airlifted to Camp 2, either.”

Rescue during the first summit push

The leader of Pioneer Adventure did note that the first time they attempted to reach the summit, during the rope fixing, there was an airlift from Camp 2. However, this was to rescue a member of the Pioneer Adventure team.

“A Nepali girl, Sharmila Tamang, had to be airlifted from Camp 2. It was little cloudy, so I sent Sirbaz Khan to show [the helicopter pilot] exact location,” said Mingma G.

Sirbaz helped the pilot, then later went up the mountain on foot.

Mingma G remarked that Sirbaz Khan did several trips between Base Camp and Camp 3 during the rope fixing, always on foot. The guide said that he had not seen any other climber being airlifted.

“On the second summit attempt, the team flew to Base Camp on May 3 and started the summit push on the following day by climbing to Camp 2. They proceeded to C3 on May 5, C4 on May 6 and finally summited on May 7.”

Check the the video below of the team’s arrival at the summit, posted by member Jill Wheatley.

“Sirbaz, Nims’ team, and I flew to Base Camp on May 4,” Mingma G added. “Nims’s team was supposed to climb to Camp 2 that same day, in order to go for the summit the same day that we did, but Asma Althani had some health issues and asked to stay in Base Camp that day.”

No choppers needed

“On May 5, Sirbaz Khan and I climbed from BC all the way to Camp 3, while Nims’s [Nirmal Purja’s]  team climbed to Camp 2,” said Mingma G. “John Gupta’s team was resting in Camp 2, so many people there saw Nims’s team climbing from BC to Camp 2. There were also plenty of people in Base Camp. No one was airlifted.”

Likewise, no helicopter flew on the mountain during Pioneer Adventure’s push.

Mingma G pointed out that the rumors might have started after Sirbaz Khan helped with the rescue during the first summit attempt. “But if there’s anybody who has absolutely no need of an airlift, that’s Sirbaz. He is faster than I am!” said Mingma G. “On the second push, I set off from Base Camp at 9 am and reached Camp 3 at 5:48 pm. Sirbaz took nearly an hour less!”

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.