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They had been airlifted to safety after being spotted early on Sunday at Munsiyari base camp near Nanda Devi. Information they provided after their rescue helped to narrow the search area to about 50 sq km 20 sq miles. Considered one of the toughest Himalayan peaks to climb, it attracts fewer climbers than other mountains in the region. Asia selected China India selected.

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Nanda Devi: India mission to retrieve climbers' bodies aborted 5 June Image caption Indian officials have launched an operation to retrieve the bodies of five climbers Attempts to retrieve the bodies of five climbers from the Himalayas have been postponed by Indian officials.

The bodies were spotted by an Indian rescue mission on Monday. More on this story. Nanda Devi: Rescued climbers search for missing mountaineers.

In Depth : Nanda Devi Mystery

Chances of survival are bleak. A team of 10 to 15 rescuers, comprising police, disaster response personnel and administrators, has also fanned out to find survivors, said Tripti Bhatt, an official of the Uttarakhand State Disaster Response Force SDRF. Authorities warned it could take days to trek to the area where the missing climbers were last known to have been. Moran Mountain confirmed on Saturday that it was working with authorities and the British Association of Mountain Guides to "gather information regarding the Nanda Devi East expedition team". Photos posted to Moran Mountain's Facebook page the day before the start of the climb showed the group "starting their journey into the hills at Neem Kharoli Baba temple, Bhowali".

An update on 22 May, posted from their second base camp at 4, metres, suggested that the group would attempt to summit a previously unclimbed peak on the mountain. Considered one of the toughest Himalayan peaks to summit, it attracts fewer climbers than other mountains in the region. Asia selected China India selected. Nanda Devi: Hopes fading for eight missing climbers 2 June Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The group went missing while climbing Nanda Devi in the Indian Himalayas Indian rescuers say the chances of finding eight climbers missing in the Himalayas are "bleak".

The British group leader's family said they were "deeply saddened". The spy story was my inaugural title. Part of telling the tale meant going to India to check things out myself. It was a long and tricky process to get permission for Nanda Kot alone, and a year of hopeful wrangling garnered nothing more than a permit denial for Nanda Devi. The reason given was environmental degradation in the Sanctuary, but in my eyes, it was all because of the lurking SNAP.

Clouds rise from the valley below and pour from the summit ridge above, hemming us in a whiteout. A few hours ago our world was a broad vista of ragged Himalayan ridges and peaks—some exceeding 21, feet—marching northward to Tibet. Now, in the decreasing visibility, our only sense of what lies ahead is the encroaching rumble of avalanches.

Heavy waves of snow lash us. We move from below an ice cliff into an adjacent cave-like gash in the mountainside—the remnants of a deep crevasse, roofed by a sheet of ice—and pitch our tents. The four of us—ace climber Jonny Copp, a past Himalayan teammate Chuck Bird, and his girlfriend, fellow climber Sarah Thompson—have spent the last few weeks trekking through a Tolkeinesque landscape of vibrant green foothills, deep river gorges, and ghost-towns deserted following Sino-Indian border clashes of the early s.


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Now we climb into the abode of the gods, surrounded by ranks of peaks including our objective Nanda Kot and the majestic Nanda Devi. Sleep comes quickly. But at p. Her attraction lies neither in her height nor beauty, but in the fact that somewhere on these icy flanks lies a tangible vestige of the most bizarre spy adventure of the Cold War, a vestige that has brought me halfway around the world and could threaten the lives of millions.

Fighting claustrophobia, Chuck unzips the tent door, a noisy process of fumbling for the zipper, and straining for leverage against the reluctant tent fabric. He debates taking a sleeping pill, then decides against it. I just want him to settle down so I can sleep, not knowing that his midnight fumbling will soon save my life. Jonny snores lightly as Sarah settles back into the prone position. The open tent door bathes me in cold unsettling wisps. I close my eyes, hoping for an unconscious reprieve. The avalanche begins with a jarring crack that shakes the mountain and immediately builds to a deep bass rumble.

My mind starts its painfully lazy swim up from the dark blue depths of semi-consciousness. My eyes pop open. The race is on. I sluggishly shrug off my sleeping bag. Even as my body begins the race for survival, my brain, shaken from a hypoxic torpor, begins to sift the possibilities.

My movements seem slow—languid, like those of a passenger stuck in a low-speed car crash—each moment stretched into a small version of eternity. My brain fumbles through questions in what seems like a criminally slow process. Did our cave collapse?

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Are we to be crushed, screaming under tons of ice? Is the whole mountain sliding down? Are we to end up in a broken tangle 3, feet below? Our team—split into two pairs ensconced in two separate tents—is perched on the icy floor of the narrow, downward arching crevasse. Picture two tiny nylon bubbles nested in a jagged stab wound piercing the flanks of our mountain. Then picture a colossal dump truck emptying a mammoth load of quickset cement into the hole.

The weight is incredible—a remorseless, crushing tide.


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Behind my shoulder, over the deadly roar I can hear Chuck yell. The pressure of snow smashes the tent and wraps his body, pinning his struggling limbs in an irresistible embrace. His mouth and throat fills with suffocating white death. For a brief moment the deadly flow diminishes—like the trough between two big ocean waves. I make an instinctive grab for the ice screw.

Sunanda Devi - Wikipedia

I vaguely remember fixing the screw into the blue ice face above my side of the tent during the prior afternoon—an eternity ago. As my hand latches the frigid metal, a second, stronger wave swells, and I pull myself up with one arm, right hand locked in a death grip on the carabiner clipped to the ice screw. My stocking feet gain the top of the moving mass as the tide slows almost to a halt. Then as fast as it all started, it stops. Billions of ice crystals pay obeisance to the laws of physics as they meet, interlock, and come to rest at the angle of repose.

Nanda Devi: India mission to retrieve climbers' bodies aborted

The whole Nanda Devi affair was a fascinating story, one threatening to fade into history as its participants passed away. The devices ran up a bill of millions. Robert Schaller, who is semi-retired. Before making his mark on the medical world as a pediatric surgeon, Schaller made history of another sort, if known only by a few people, with what was then the greatest alpine climbing feat accomplished by an American.

His journal and photographs, a historic record of those exploits, were confiscated by the CIA. Such secrecy not only denied Schaller his place in climbing history, but also did nothing to assuage the concerns of a wife whose husband had mysteriously disappeared for months on end over a four-year period.

It was draped around his neck—then locked away in a vault at CIA headquarters in Langley. The cost runs deep for another Nanda Devi survivor, legendary climber, former American Alpine Club president and retired Manhattan trial attorney Jim McCarthy, whose short, stocky build matches a pugnacious verbal style.

In , McCarthy, selected for his climbing skill, had been instructed in the use of explosives like C4, and trained by the Atomic Energy Commission to handle the plutonium. Let me tell you, the fuel rods were wildly warm. McCarthy blames the radiation for testicular cancer. We drove straight back to New York, found the very best doctor in the Metro area.