Himalaya Spring 2019: Missing Climber Found Alive on Annapurna

Yesterday I shared the news that not only had more than 30 climbers summited Annapurna earlier in the week but that one of those climbers went missing while descending the peak. Malaysian alpinist Wui Kin Chin had reportedly reached the summit along with the rest of the team led by Seven Summit Treks, but he didn’t return to Camp 4 afterwards. Today we’ve received an update on the status of the search effort and for once it is good news. Chin has been found above C4 and is alive after nearly two days alone on the mountain.

According to The Himalayan Times, SAR teams used helicopters to sweep over Annapurna this morning and spotted Chin from the air. Despite the fact that he had been alone on the mountain for more than 40 hours, without food or water and with a depleted oxygen supply, Chin was still able to wave down the passing helicopter. That’s a good sign that while he may be cold and potentially frost bitten, he still has his facilities about him to recognize what is happening around him and signal for help.

After locating Chin a team of climbers that included Nirmal Purja, Mingma David Sherpa, Galgen Sherpa and Gesman Tamang was flown to Camp 3 where they immediately proceeded upwards to reach the Malaysian climber. At the time the Times story was written those rescue operations were still underway, so hopefully we’ll get an update on Chin’s status soon. He’ll obviously need assistance going down, and is no doubt in a weakened state, but it appears that he is alive and in relatively good condition considering the circumstances.

Over on Everest, things are proceeding on schedule. As mentioned earlier in the week most of the teams are now either on their first acclimatization rotation or are back in Base Camp following a few days up at Camp 1 and 2. Some of the climbers will have to spend an extra day above BC however, as Alan Arnette points out that a collapse in the Khumbu Icefall has forced the Ice Doctors to complete some repairs. This is a regular occurrence, but while that happens teams will have to stay in place and not go through the icefall. It’s likely that the repairs were already completed earlier today and the teams are on the move once again.

The rope fixing teams are on the move as well, with the Sherpa squad tasked with fixing lines on the South Side now at Camp 3 and proceeding with their work above that point. They’re slightly ahead of their counterpart on the North Side in Tibet, who have arrived on the mountain and are looking to reach the North Col in a few days time. In other words, things are proceeding about as well as can be expected. Look for the rope fixing efforts to be wrapped up sometime around the first week of May.

Right now, the mundane work of going up and down the mountain is the normal routine. Look for more updates on the status of these teams soon.

Kraig Becker