Three French climbers missing in the Khumbu

Mountain rescuers at the foot of Minbo Ider
Mountain rescuers at the foot of Minbo Ider

Great concern for the French top talents Thomas Arfi, Louis Pachoud and Gabriel Miloche: the three young climbers have apparently been buried by an avalanche at the 6,017-meter-high Minbo Ider in the Khumbu region in Nepal. The summit is not far from the shapely Ama Dablam (6,812 m).

The French trio had set out last week to ascend through a couloir in the West Face of Minbo Ider. After they failed to report back, a rescue operation had been launched over the weekend.

On Sunday, pilots from the Nepalese helicopter company Kailash Helicopter Services spotted a track on the summit ridge that ended at the breakaway edge of an avalanche, and several pieces of equipment, including two backpacks, in an avalanche cone at the foot of the wall. Today, mountain rescuers were dropped off at the site to search for the missing climbers.

Members of an elite climbing team

Rescue helicopter in operation
Rescue helicopter in operation

The 34-year-old Arfi and the two 27-year-olds Pachoud and Miloche belonged to an eight-member expedition team of the French mountaineering federation FFCAM, who were climbing in the massif of the 6,782-meter-high Kangtega at the end of a two-year course of the “Groupe Excellence Alpinisme National” (GEAN).

To acclimatize, the three now missing had summited the 6,440-meter-high Cholatse on 15 October together with climber Anouk Felix-Faure. In mid-October, another team of the group had opened a new route to Nare Ri Shar, a 6,005-meter-high secondary peak of Kangtega.

GEAN has been training top French mountaineers for 30 years. From their ranks also came Elisabeth Revol, in 2018 the first woman to scale Nanga Parbat in winter. During the descent, her Polish team partner Tomek Mackiewicz had died; Revol had been rescued.

Update 8 November: The bodies of the three French climbers missing on Minbo Ider have been found and recovered. R.I.P.

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