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Two Missing in Avalanche on Shishapangma

[Photo] Wikimedia Commons

In the afternoon of September 23rd, 2014 at 4:30 PM (Nepalese Time), Benedikt Bohm (37) and Ueli Steck (38) began their speed ascent attempt of Himalayan peak Shisha Pangma (8,013m) from Basecamp (5,600m). Their plan was to reach the summit in the morning of September 24th, together with teammates Sebastian Haag (36) (who was beginning his climb from Camp 1 (6,300m)) as well as Martin Maier (40) and Andrea Zambaldi (32) (who were starting their climb from Camp 2 (6,800m)). Bohm and Steck joined Haag at Camp 1 (6,300m), as planned, at 8:00 PM. At the same time Maier and Zambaldi departed Camp 2 (6,800m) and headed toward the summit. All five climbers paired up below Camp 3, at approx. 7,100m at 1:00 AM on September 24th, and reached Camp 3 (7,300m) at exactly 2:00 AM.

Being the first climbers above Camp 2, the team of five had to continuously break trail through rough conditions as they made their way toward the summit. At 6:50 AM, the team safely made it to a point 100m. below the summit. The team’s collective spirit and motivation were high, and everyone was working very well together and moving at the same speed. The team estimated that it would reach the summit at 8:00 AM.

At 6:55 AM, Haag, Zambaldi and Maier were caught in an avalanche at 7,900m, approximately 100m below the summit and were dragged for 600 vertical meters, over steep glaciers, into another section of the mountain.

Bohm and Steck immediately called basecamp for assistance, and descended to Camp 3, via the same route they had ascended, to attempt to traverse into the avalanche zone to search for the victims. After attempting to access the area from various sides for over four hours, they could not find access to the area and were forced to abandon their efforts.

Maier, one of the avalanche victims, survived the slide and managed to make his way to Camp 3 on the morning of September 25th. He was met there by a Sherpa rescue team, is conscious, and is currently being transported to basecamp for further medical attention. The other two victims, Haag and Zambaldi, disappeared with the avalanche and their bodies have not yet been located.