Hopes fade for three French climbers missing in Everest region
KATHMANDU — The hopes of finding three missing French climbers alive in a mountain near Everest have faded.
Search efforts since Sunday have been affected due to extreme weather conditions, said Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, a member of the search and rescue team mobilized by the Nepal National Mountain Guides Association.
He said the possibility of finding the missing climbers alive was “very slim”.
The search team has recovered two bags in the area.
The French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs, according to French media reports, has also said that the chance of finding the missing climbers alive is “practically zero”.
The three climbers—Thomas Arfi, Gabriel Miloche and Louis Pachoud—were reported missing on Saturday. According to reports, they had last made contact on October 26 via satellite phone from their camp.
They were apparently caught in an avalanche.
Sherpa said the snow deposit where the avalanche took place is almost 25 feet deep.
He said even the Recco detector and avalanche transceiver, devices used to search and locate people buried under snow, have failed to detect the missing climbers.
“It’s not possible to find them before the spring season [March-April] when the snow melts,” Sherpa said. “We are heading back to Kathmandu on Wednesday.”
The three young climbers were part of an eight-member expedition team. The group had been issued permits to climb two mountains—6,783-meter Mt Khangtega and 6,423-meter Mt Cholatse—both in the Everest region.
“They had split into two groups to tackle two mountains,” said Bhishma Raj Bhattarai, a section officer at the Department of Tourism, the government agency that issues the climbing permits.
Bhattarai said that the department issued the permits for Mt Khangtega and Nepal Mountaineering Association issued permits for Mt Cholatse for all eight members.
The association has been allowed, by the government, to manage 27 small peaks known as ‘trekking peaks’ which range in height from 5,587 to 6,654 meters.
“The group had split into two. It looks like both groups had planned to climb both mountains alternately. The exact details will be known once the remaining five members of the expedition explain their plan. They have to come to the department for de-briefing,” said Bhattarai.