Mountaineers missing in Nepal: hope fades after hours of searching

the essential The hope of finding alive three young French climbers, missing in Nepal since 26 October after an avalanche in the Everest region, abated Monday after hours of research marked by the only discovery of material.

“The hope of finding survivors is now almost nil,” said the French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs (FFCAM) ​​on Monday morning in a statement, while the search launched on Sunday had just resumed near the summit of Mount Mingbo Eiger, at an altitude of 6 26 meters.

The federation dispatched a helicopter reconnaissance over the avalanche flow on Sunday, in support of research carried out on the ground by a team of five experienced rescuers from the Nepalese National Association of Mountain Guides.

To read also: Three French climbers who disappeared in Nepal after an avalanche: what we know about the tragedy

In their twenties, Louis Pachoud, Gabriel Miloche and Thomas Arfi, had started to climb a chute on the left of the west face of Mingbo Eiger, the satellite summit of Kangtega located in the Khumbu region and Everest south of Ama Dablam (6. 814 m). The three belong to the National Alpinism Excellence Group (GEAN), an elite formation of the FFCAM.

Three bags and bivouac equipment

The overflights made it possible “to locate their tracks up to 5 900 on the ridge leading to the summit” where the rescuers observed “the outbreak of a avalanche, “said FFCAM.

These same tracks show that they “gave up going to the top, turned around and started their descent by their ascent route “. At the foot of the face, the rescuers found “three bags, as well as the equipment of the bivouac”, according to the FFCAM.

“Something like a bag or a black object has been spotted on the side of the mountain,” said Pratap Jung Pandey, general manager of Kailash Helicopter Service, a Nepalese company specializing in emergency aerial evacuation.

“Until then, we have not progressed. We then returned to Lukla”, the usual crossing point for tourists visiting the Himalayas, and in particular Everest, for his part indicated Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, from the rescue team of the National Association of Mountain Guides of Nepal. “The weather hasn’t been that good. We’ll be back there tomorrow to pick them up,” he said. The president of this association, Ang Norbu Sherpa, now in charge of operations, was on his way to the region on Monday. A local police liaison officer was also dispatched to assess the situation.

“Enthusiastic SMS”

The three missing are part of a group that arrived at the end of September in the Khumbu region (Everest region), to climb several peaks between 5 and 6 meters above sea level, south of Ama Dablam (6. 814 m).

According to the Dauphiné Libéré, Thomas Arfi is an aspiring guide. “Come to mountaineering by climbing”, this Niçois works in the Mercantour and supervised his two companions in misfortune: Gabriel Miloche, an engineer native of Briançon, returned “stronger and motivated” after a fall in the Ecrins which He seriously injured him in 2017, and Louis Pachoud, from Chambéry (Savoie), who lives “in the mountains between strong amateur practice and tailor-made professional practice”.

Left on 17 October, the three young French people had started their ascent on 24 after having carried out a day of spotting the face. “To 17 H 000, they send a Enthusiastic SMS from their bivouac in the face via their satellite phone to the other part of the group. This message will be their last communication “, detailed the FFCAM.

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