Shishapangma: Climbers Missing in Avalanche

There is concerning news from Shishapangma, where the joint Elite Exped and Imagine Nepal team started a summit push yesterday. A massive avalanche has buried the climbing route and caught some climbers. A rescue operation is ongoing.

What we know

The Elite Exped/Imagine Nepal team started their summit push yesterday. Using similar tactics to Cho Oyu last week, they aimed for a non-stop Base Camp to summit push. But this time things did not go according to plan.

After 28 hours with only a break in Camp 1, most climbers retreated from 7,600m, Simon Sharaf from the Pakistani climbers’ home team told ExplorersWeb.

Naila Kiani’s tracker showed that she was descending fast. “That means she is safe,” Sharaf said. According to other climbers, American Gina Rzucidlo didn’t turn around and continued with her Sherpa guide toward the summit.

Then, local media published unconfirmed news about an avalanche sweeping the route, with two people missing.

We have contacted Imagine Nepal’s headquarters in Kathmandu and they confirmed the avalanche, noting that everyone from the Imagine Nepal team is safe.

“Mingma G and Dipen Gurung are joining the rescue team,” Dawa Sherpa told ExplorersWeb.

Word at the moment is that three people are missing. On the mountain, in addition to Imagine Nepal and Elite Exped, there is a small group from Seven Summit Treks that had been in place for some days.

Currently, Naila Kiani’s tracker locates her at 6,900m, close to Camp 2. 

Waypoints mark a route on a Google Earth 3d map od Shishapangma.

Naila Kiani’s climb from her InReach waypoints, showing her highest point reached and her current location. Graphic: Samson S. Sharaf

Winter-like cold

Among those with Seven Summit Treks are Italian Mario Vielmo and Sebastiano Valentini, climbing without O2. Vielmo messaged home over inReach this morning before returning from Camp 1 to Base Camp. He said it was extremely cold and windy. Vielmo and Valentini intended to proceed to Camp 2 today but canceled their plans and headed down for a rest and some warmth.

The latest forecast suggests very tough conditions for the next few days, with sunny but extremely cold temperatures and up to 95kmph winds on October 10. “It’s like winter,” Vielmo said.

A second Seven Summit Treks team arrived at Base Camp today. They had planned to head up the mountain straight away but have postponed their summit push in light of the avalanche news. Perhaps they may be able to help in the rescue effort. There is no helicopter rescue service for Shishapangma.

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.