Himalaya Fall 2012 Update: Search Ends On Annapurna

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Earlier this week the mountaineering world was rocked by another avalanche tragedy on a Himalayan peak. Just two weeks after a serac collapsed on Manaslu, killing more than a dozen people, we received word that a major snow slide had swept two Uzbek climbers off of Annapurna. Yesterday a search and rescue team combed the mountain looking for traces of the missing men, but found no trace. Late in the day it was announced that they were suspending the search and heading home.

The tragedy occurred on Monday when a team of three climbers from Uzbekistan were moving up Annapurna from Camp 1 to Camp 2. The avalanche caught them in the middle of that climb and quickly buried Iljas Tukhvatullin and Ivan Lobanov. A third member of their team managed to avoid being swept down the mountain and was able to descend to Camp 1 and call for help.

The only other team on Annapurna this fall was a squad of Russian climbers who were hoping to open a new route. As soon as they could, members of that team moved up the mountain to search for their fallen comrades. With the assistance of a helicopter, that search went on all day yesterday but the debris field is reportedly quite large with literally tons of snow covering the area. Russian Climb reports that the SAR team swept the slope as best the could and checked numerous crevasses, but found absolutely no trace of the missing men.

After a disappointing and sad day on the mountain, all of the climbers were planning on descending to Base Camp today and heading home. The weather has changed for the worse in the Himalaya and the loss of the two Uzbek climbers has cast a shadow over the season on Annapurna, a mountain that is always unyielding, even in the best of conditions.

My condolences to the friends an family of the fallen.

Kraig Becker