Indian search team sent to find climbers, including Americans and Australian, on Nanda Devi amid signs of avalanche


A search is underway for seven climbers four Britons, two Americans and an Australian  and their Indian liaison officer, who went missing a week ago during an expedition in the Indian Himalayas.

The group was attempting to scale Nanda Devi East, one of the highest and most difficult to climb peaks in India at just over 24,000 feet (7,400 meters) tall. The missing eight were part of a larger team of 12 who set off from the village of Munsiyari on May 13. But 12 days later, on May 25, only four of the group returned to base camp.  The team, which included four people from the UK, started to climb the 7,816-metre Nanda Devi East peak in the Himalayas on 13 May. When they didn’t return to the base camp as planned, a search and rescue team was sent to try to find them. However, a local official has warned that heavy rains and snowfall are affecting the search.

“We have activated resources to trace the climbers after they failed to return to the base camp, but bad weather is hindering the operation.”

The UK Foreign Office said in a statement it was in contact with Indian authorities following reports that the climbers were missing. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade also said it was “providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian that may be among a group of trekkers missing in the Nanda Devi area of India, We always have hope, but to be practical, we have to be prepared for bad news,”  The British-based mountain guide Martin Moran, who owns trekking company Moran Mountain, was leading the group, which was also believed to have included a 47-year-old Australian woman, Ruth McCance.The missing eight were reportedly part of a larger contingent of 12 who began their ascent from the village of Munsiyari, in the hill state of Uttarakhand, in north India near the western Nepal border, on 13 May. The group said it had trekked into the heart of the Nanda Devi sanctuary “with the ambition of summiting a virgin peak”. The complete trip was expected to take about 24 days. An earlier post on May 13 showed the group beginning their trek “into the hills at Neem Kharoli Baba temple, Bhowali”. According to an update on 22 May, the group had reached their second base camp at 4870m and were due to make a summit attempt on an unclimbed peak at 6477m. However, by 25 May – the expedition’s British deputy leader, Mark Thomas, had returned at the second base camp with three others.

He was in radio contact with the group of eight that pushed higher but when Thomas did not hear from the group by last Sunday he went up to look for them. He reportedly found a single unoccupied tent.