One Killed, Another Rescued on Possibly Illegal Climb

Felipe Valverde, 44, of Spain was killed yesterday while descending from the summit of 6,257m Chukima Go in the Nepal Himalaya. His rope somehow became untied and he fell 700m to his death. His climbing mate, David Suela, became stranded around 6,000m but managed to contact another Spanish expedition nearby and asked for rescue. Those climbers, Mikel Zabalza and Sonia Casas, called Alex Txikon, who is currently at home in Spain. Txikon coordinated the rescue efforts. Despite rough weather, Suela was airlifted by longline earlier today.

Txikon praised fellow climbers for Suela’s successful rescue, as insurance companies might have taken too long to greenlight the money, thus jeopardizing the survivor’s life. However, it is unclear from Txikon’s long Facebook post who paid for the rescue in the end.

David Suela is evacuated by longline from Chukima Go. Photo shared on Facebook by Alex Txikon


Safely back in Kathmandu, David Suela now faces a different problem. Nepal’s Department of Tourism reports that he and his late partner had no climbing permit and were on the mountain illegally. Apparently, two Spanish climbers did have permits for Chukima Go, but their names didn’t correspond to Valverde’s and Suela’s. Until this is sorted out, Suela’s passport has been seized, and the authorities may take legal action.

David Suela is lowered to the ground after his dramatic rescue. Photo: Alex Txikon