Bad weather hampers rescue of Slovak climbers stuck in Mt Everest avalanche

KATHMANDU: Two climbers from Slovakia have been trapped in an avalanche that struck a difficult route to Mt Everest above 7,000 m on Tuesday morning, according to an expedition organiser.

Ganesh Thakuri, Managing Director at Utmost Adventure Trekking, said that efforts were underway to rescue Vladimír Štrba and Zoltán Pál, who have been trapped after an avalanche hit the region above Camp II.

With the base camp and higher camps witnessing snowfall for few days, the members of 'Everest Hard Way Utmost Expedition – 2016' managed by Utmost Adventure were at 7,200 m when an avalanche swept away the icy slope, according to the base camp workers. "Four Sherpas who reached Camp II for rescue also failed to reach out to the trapped climbers," they said.

According to rescuers, one of them has suffered injuries while the other looked fine.

The ground rescue was almost impossible as both climbers choose to make a summit attempt using the dangerous south-west route this season. "Rescue helicopters – Simrik Air and Shree Airlines – also tried twice to locate the climbers but the efforts failed till 3:00 pm due to freak weather," an official at the base camp said.

Slovaks decided to attempt to climb Mt Everest from the south-west face, which was used by South Korean climber Young Seok Park seven years ago. Most of the climbers often use south-east face, the normal route, starting from Camp II while climbers rarely choose the the south-west risky path.

"Team leader Štrba and member Zoltán Pál are the only two climbers to use difficult south-west face this season," an official at the Department of Tourism said.

The DoT issued 289 climbing permits for 34 expeditions on Mt Everest in the spring season. Details were still sketchy due to poor communication network, Thakuri added.