A team of nine South Korean climbers embarked recently on what was meant to be a 45-day expedition in the Himalayas. CNN reports that the climbers went to find a new route up Mount Gurja on September 11, 2018, but have been found dead near their tattered camp. The nine people had been missing since Friday after losing contact with officials and leaving their whereabouts and progress up the 7,193-meter Himalayan peak unknown. Officials have stated that no climber had summited Mount Gurja in 22 years.
While it is not clear as to how these nine climbers died, a notably violent snowstorm did in fact strike at their camp, which has led many, including South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, to blame the storm. Upon locating the base camp and bodies, the scene has been described by many as one of “total destruction.” Siddartha Gurung, the captain who coordinated the helicopter retrieval mission as well as Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a U.S.-based emergency assistance group assisting in the retrieval effort, have both spoken out on the state of the camp found destroyed on Mount Gurja.
The conditions of the bodies, coupled with the snowstorm’s damage to the campsite, have led officials to hypothesize that the team of climbers may have been killed by the storm’s violent winds. Another member of the rescue team, Suraj Paudyal, told reporters that a piece of glacial ice came down from the mountainside, thereby creating a gust of “turbulence washing the climbers and staff from their tented camp at the base camp.”
In order to rescue the bodies from the mountain, a net was attached to 30 meters of rope and then further attached to the bottom of a helicopter.
Those already identified were named in a Facebook post by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. He named the South Korean climbers as team leader Kim Chang-ho, team members Lee Jae-hoon, Yim Il-jin, Yoo Young-jik, and Jung Joon-mo. Four other Nepali guides have yet to be identified.
Moon himself is an outdoor adventurist who has, in fact, climbed in the Himalayas. His statement went on to speak about the dangers of these types of areas.
“There are dangers to all areas where humans attempt to push the boundaries. Nine climbers were taken forever by a snow storm but their bravery and tireless spirit demonstrated by their attempt to find a new route will not be buried with them. As long as challenges for new routes continue, the souls of people who have become part of the mountains will forever remain in our hearts.”