In the December 9, 2009 NewsWire, Alpinist reported that Hungarian climbers Peter Csizmadia, Veronika Mikolovits, Balazs Pechtol and Kata Tolnay were missing on Ren Zhong Feng after failing to return to Chengdu, China on October 31. Following their disappearance, a search and rescue team–five professional climbers organized by the Sichuan Mountaineering Association–attempted to locate the four Hungarians on foot. A helicopter search followed but turned up no sign of the climbers.
The missing climbers accessed the peak from the northeast, via the Gang Gou Valley. There they established base camp at 3100m and advanced base camp at 3900m. The search and rescue team found some of the climbers’ equipment at a higher camp (ca. 4400m) and continued to climb up to 5000m. The search team reported poor weather and dangerous serac conditions. Though they found no trace of the Hungarians above 4400m and were unable to continue past 5000m, the search team believes the climbers likely ran into trouble around 5300-5500m.
The Sichuan Mountaineering Association also noted that, on October 22, collapsing seracs caused a massive ice avalanche that swept the upper flanks of Ren Zhong Feng. It is possible that the climbers were caught in the avalanche while attempting the peak. Authorities and experts say that the chance of finding the missing climbers alive at this point is incredibly slim.
According to the Global Times, the four Hungarians are all experienced climbers. Peter Csizmadia, 37, and Katalin Tolnay, 36, are both researchers. Balazs Pechtol, 31, is a computer programmer and Veronika Mikolovits, 35, is a teacher. The Budapest Times reported that Hungary’s foreign ministry spokesman Zsuzsanna Matrai said that the ministry was closely monitoring the situation and providing the families of the climbers with updates.