Breaking: Three Missing in Khumbu Avalanche

Three young French climbers are missing on Mingbo Eiger after a massive avalanche struck the west face of this 6,017m peak near Ama Dablam. Some of the best climbers in Nepal have arrived in the area to help. But hopes of finding the French alpinists alive are close to nil.

The missing climbers are Thomas Arfi, Louis Pachoud, and Gabriel Miloche, according to Le Dauphine. They are members of an eight-person group belonging to France’s GEAN (the national climbing team), who are climbing several peaks in the Khumbu.

Facts were confusing at first, as the GEAN climbers divided into smaller groups, each targeting different mountains. Earlier this week, we reported that one of the other GEAN groups had opened a new route on Nare Ri Shar.

The French Federation of Mountain Clubs (FFCAM) issued a press release about the Mingbo Eiger climbers. It stated that the three young guides and aspiring guides “had planned four days for this ascent”.

Gabriel Miloche, one of the missing climbers. Photo: DR/Le Dauphine


It went on: “After a whole day of scouting with binoculars to assess the snow conditions and ensure the weather window, they decide to begin the ascent. On the evening of [October] 26, contact was established by satellite phone from the bivouac where the climbers were installed. The first day of climbing went smoothly.”

No news, and a major avalanche

Concern grew, as time went on without news. Finally, the French Embassy launched an aerial search yesterday. A helicopter found that a major avalanche had swept the face, according to Montagnes Magazine. Pilots also spotted some gear at the base of the slope.

Today, Nepal’s National Mountain Guides Association deployed a team of some of the best climbers in the country to help with the search, The Himalayan Times reported. Among the rescuers are IFMGA guides Mingma Gyalje Sherpa (aka Mingma G), Vinayak Malla,  Ang Dawa Sherpa, Tshering Sherpa, and Pemba Gyalzen Sherpa.

Meanwhile, the head of the GEAN group, Stephane Benoist, confirmed that the climbers had separated into two teams. He said they were all devastated. They presume that an avalanche had swept away the missing climbers.