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Hopes fade for French climbers missing in Himalayas

Hopes faded Monday for three French climbers missing in the Himalayas after an avalanche, with their national climbing federation putting the chances of finding them alive at “practically zero”.

The trio were attempting to scale Mingbo Eiger, a 6,000-metre (19,700-feet) peak near Mount Everest in Nepal, and were last heard from via satellite phone from their camp on October 26.

The French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs (FFCAM) said Monday that the men appeared to have abandoned their summit attempt and turned back when the avalanche hit.

“At the bottom of the cliff face, rescuers found three bags and equipment from their bivouac,” the FFCAM said in a statement.

Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, a member of the search and rescue team mobilised by the Nepal National Mountain Guides Association, said however that the operation, hampered by poor weather, would continue on Tuesday.

Thomas Arfi, Louis Pachoud, and Gabriel Miloche went for Mingbo Eiger (6,070m), a satellite peak of Kangtega, south of Ama Dablam.

They spent two days at the base of the peak’s west face checking conditions on their planned route. Then on October 26, they began advancing up the couloir which cuts the wall’s left side.

At 5:11 pm, they reported from their bivouac site. They said that they were feeling great. That was the last their home team heard from them.

The French Federation of Mountain Clubs (FFCAM ) spared no effort to try to locate the three young climbers.

Expert pilot Claudio Mittner scouted the peak from the air on Sunday and Monday.

Meanwhile, a crack Nepali team that included Mingma G, Vinayak Malla, Ang Dawa Sherpa, Tsering Sherpa, and Pemba Gyalzen flew to the base of the mountain to begin a ground search.

All in vain. The pilots found no trace except the climbers’ footprints on the summit ridge. It suggested that team had turned around at 5,900m. Sadly, an avalanche that triggered at about 6,000m swept the descending line of footprints. Tellingly, some bivouac gear lay scattered among the debris. The ground rescuers weren’t any luckier, as far as we know. Mingma G said that the search would continue today, according to Carlos Garranzo:

The French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs (FFCAM) said on Monday that the climbers seemed to have abandoned their summit attempt and retreated when the avalanche occurred. 

“The hopes of finding survivors are practically zero today.”

The FFCAM also rejected claims in local media that they did not have the proper permits.

Source: AP via 24newshd