One Dead, One Missing on Mera Peak

Himalaya Nepal
Past climbers head toward the summit of Mera Peak summit in good weather. Photo: SummitClimb

A porter has died of altitude sickness and a storm trapped more than 10 tourists for two days high on 6,476m Mera Peak. Heavy snow and a whiteout caught many on their way down from the summit. They were scattered on different parts of the mountain for those 48 hours.

Details are sketchy, but some climbers reportedly found shelter in a cave at 5,700m. They holed up there without food or fuel, while others weathered the storm in a high camp. The rest managed to return to Base Camp, Solukhumbu District police told Nepal Live yesterday.

The trekkers included at least two UK nationals. Pasang Chhiring, Chheten Sherpa, Pasang Sherpa, and Purna Thapa Magar of Nepal accompanied them.

Helicopters grounded

A rescue call immediately went out, but bad weather grounded the helicopters until today. A few volunteers who tried to trek up Wednesday had to turn back because of deep snow. Sometime on Wednesday, staff member Jeevan Kulung, 25, perished from AMS.

A small team tried to reach the stranded climbers on foot, but deep snow forced them back. Video frame from Adventure Victory/Facebook

Luckily, improving weather permitted climbers to move down today. Five of them, four foreigners and one Nepali according to preliminary reports, were helped down from above Base Camp. Helicopters picked them up and returned them to Kathmandu, according to Mounteveresttoday.com.

“Sadly, one guide got lost on the way and is missing,”  Sherpa Events president Nuru Sherpa told ExplorersWeb. Mounteveresttoday confirmed that team member Cheten Sherpa is missing. A Sherpa rescue team on foot, including Nuru himself, is currently looking for him.

Sherpa Events, led by Nuru Sherpa, had organized a trip to Mera Peak for a group of local teenagers who wanted to break a Guinness record by performing the highest ever Shyabru dance (a traditional Sherpa dance) on the mountain. They hoped to reach 5,800m, the usual location of the one high camp that groups set up on Mera Peak.

Nuru Sherpa confirmed that the youngsters reached their goal and are all safe. He notes that it was those who went all the way to the summit on October 18 who ran into trouble on the way down. Conditions that day were rough, as shown in this video by Adventure Victory, a local outfitter partnering with Sherpa Events.

Rain hits Nepal hard

Mera Peak is one of the most popular trekking peaks in Nepal, thanks to its location near the Khumbu Valley and its straightforward slopes. As with any other mountain that size, however, it is not to be underestimated. Bad weather or inexperienced or out-of-shape climbers can rapidly cause serious problems.

Climbers head toward the summit of Mera Peak on October 18. Frame from an Adventure Victory FB video.

This week, the heavy rains hitting Nepal turned into loads of snow higher up. This weather has affected other treks and climbs in the Khumbu. British guide Jon Gupta plans to fly to Lukla tomorrow and then to Ama Dablam’s Base Camp. He told ExplorersWeb that It has rained incessantly in Kathmandu for days and that 50cm of fresh snow had fallen in Gorak Shep. Photographer Jackson Groves, also on his way to Ama Dablam, described a rain-soaked Portse village yesterday.

The Mera incident is part of a larger pattern of destruction left by the moisture currently hitting northern India and Nepal. These out-of-monsoon rains have triggered landslides and floods. In Nepal, at least 77 people have died in the last two days, according to The Kathmandu Post.

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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