It is a small miracle. According to consistent reports from Nepal, the Indian climber Anurag Maloo, missing since Monday on the eight-thousander Annapurna I in western Nepal, was found and rescued today in a crevasse at about 5,800 meters. The 34-year-old was flown by helicopter to a hospital in the city of Pokhara and then on to a clinic in Kathmandu.. “He is in a critical condition, but he is alive,” Sudhir Maloo, the climber’s brother, said in a short video shared on social media.
The rescue team from Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summit Treks was led by Chhang Dawa Sherpa. Polish climbers Adam Bielecki and Mariusz Hatala, who had planned this spring to open a new route through the Northwest Face of Annapurna I along with German Felix Berg, also participated in the rescue operation.
Family did not give up
Maloo’s family and friends had petitioned the Nepalese and Indian governments and appealed for donations to ensure that the search for Maloo continued intensively – even though the chance of finding him alive was decreasing by the minute. Maloo had abandoned his summit attempt at Camp 4 at around 7,100 meters and disappeared on the descent.
The Indian climber Baljeet Kaur had also been missing temporarily after her summit success (without bottled oxygen). However, she had been located on Tuesday at an altitude of 7,300 meters and could be rescued by helicopter. To treat her frostbite, she had been flown to a hospital in Kathmandu. The Northern Irish climber Noel Hanna had only been able to be recovered dead. The 56-year-old, who had also summited Annapurna I without bottled oxygen, had died in his tent in camp 4 – apparently from high altitude sickness.
Update 21 March: Adam Bielecki – together with Tashi Sherpa – found and recovered Anurag Maloo in the crevasse about 50 meters deep, said in an interview with Michal Rodak on Polish radio station RMF24: “We thought we were going up by helicopter to recover a body, and we may have saved a man. Anurag’s condition is reportedly still serious, but he is said to be stable. The feeling is great. Mariusz (Hatala) and I burst into tears after the whole operation, from emotion, from happiness and to give free rein to these feelings. (…) For us, it is a lesson that you must never give up and always step to the rescue. Because there is always hope that even after two days there is still a chance to save a person.”
According to Adam, the two Poles have abandoned their original plan to ascend through the northwest face of Annapurna: “This is just not the right time of year.” They may want to try the normal route – if the weather matches.
Update 23 April: If the impression has arisen that I have emphasized the contribution of the Polish climbers Adam Bielecki and Mariusz Hatala, this was not my intention. Such a dangerous action can only work as a team effort. Besides Bieleck and Hatala, the rescue team included the Nepalese Chhepal Sherpa, Lakpa Sherpa, Tashi Sherpa, Dawa Nurbu Sherpa, Lakpa Nuru Sherpa and the helicopter pilot Sobit Gauchan. Chhang Dawa Sherpa and Mingma Sherpa of Seven Summits Trek coordinated the search and rescue. Hats off to all the rescuers who put their lives on the line to save Anurag’s life! According to his family, the condition of the Indian climber is slowly improving, but is still critical.