A 32-member team, including 11 mountaineers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, launched a fresh expedition on Thursday to retrieve the bodies of eight climbers who attempted to scale Nanda Devi East peak on May 25, reported the Hindustan Times. The team also includes personnel from the State Disaster Response Force and the National Disaster Response Force.
Pithoragarh District Magistrate Vijay Kumar Jogdande said the team left for Munsiyari on Thursday. “On Friday, the team will be airlifted from Munsiyari, by an MH 17 helicopter and airdropped at Nanda Devi second base camp,” Jogdande told Hindustan Times.
For the next four-five days, the team will undertake daily climbs to acclimatise. “Following their acclimatisation, the team will try for retrieving the bodies of the 8 missing mountaineers, including four Britishers, two Americans, one Indian and one Australian,” said Jogdande. The bodies are located on the eastern slope of Nanda Devi at a height of around 5,000 metres.
Twelve mountaineers had gone for an expedition to climb the Nanda Devi East peak, India’s second highest mountain. The climbers had left Munsiyari on May 13 but they did not return to the base camp on the scheduled date of May 25.
Four of them who had split from the main group were rescued on June 2 from base camp area. The remaining eight climbers, led by experienced mountaineer Martin Moran, planned to attempt “an unclimbed peak” adjacent to Nanda Devi.
Meanwhile, the ground team of Indian Mountaineering Federation is also on its way from Pindari glacier side to reach the avalanche site. Bageshwar District Magistrate Ranjana Rajguru said the 14-member IMF team, led by Dhruv Joshi, started their trek on June 11. “They told me that it will take them three to four days to reach the base camp, where they will acclimatise for three to four days before trying to climb the slope where the bodies are located,” she said. “They haven’t informed us yet about their current location.”
On June 5, Indian Air Force helicopters were unable to retrieve the bodies, which were sighted two days before. The helicopters returned to base after three attempts due to air turbulence, the height and geography of the terrain. Jogdande had then said that rescue operations would restart with a new plan.
The air search was conducted on the basis of clues provided by four British mountaineers rescued on June 2 from the base camp of Nanda Devi.