An Israeli trekker died after falling into a gorge on way to the source of the Ganga in Uttarakhand, police said on Wednesday, the second such incident in a fortnight involving foreign nationals in the Himalayan state.
The incident occurred on Tuesday and the body of the trekker, identified as Ariel Frajman, 56, was brought to the district headquarter town Uttarkashi on Wednesday, said Dadan Pal, the superintendent of police.
Last week, a Polish mountaineer died during an operation to rescue him from a Himalayan mountain stretch, three days after he went missing with another climber while attempting to scale a 6543-metre peak. One of his team-members is still missing and is feared dead.
The snow-bound hills and valleys in Uttarakhand are a major attraction for trekkers and mountaineers from around the world. Till August, the state accounted for 30% of the 44 foreign expeditions to India this year, according to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation.
Over the past decade, at least 13 people have died in Uttarakhand during trekking and attempts to scale any of the 52 identified peaks in the state.
The police official said the Israeli embassy has been informed about the incident.
According to police, a group of five trekkers began their expedition from Gangotri, around 300 kms northeast from Dehradun, on Monday. They were headed towards Gomukh, the glacial origin of Ganga, an 18 km uphill trek from Gangotri, the last road head before the snow-clad mountain ranges begin. After a night halt on the way, the group resumed their trek on Tuesday.
“The accident occurred when he (Frajman) slipped and fell into a gorge near Chirbasa, while on their way to Gomukh. His body was recovered and was brought to Gangotri,” Pal told HT on phone.
The group had plans to trek up to Tapovan at an altitude of 4463 metres, a barren area located above the Gangotri glacier which acts as a base camp for mountaineering expeditions to Mt Shivling and other peaks, he added.
The incident involving the two Polish mountaineers too had taken place during an attempt to scale Mt Shivling, recognised as one of the most difficult mountaineering expeditions in the state.
Expeditions to Himalayan peaks in India and Nepal have led to several disasters over the years with climbers falling into snow-covered crevices or due to altitude sickness in stretches known as the ‘death zones’ where the air is very thin.
In 2001, two Israeli climbers had lost their legs during an expedition to Mt Shivling.