Indian mountaineer Rajib Bhattacharya died on Mt. Dhaulagiri on Thursday afternoon while descending from the mountain’s peak.
The 43-year-old from West Bengal’s Howrah district had complained of difficulty in vision before collapsing between the peak and Camp III.
At 8,167 m above sea level, Mt Dhaulagiri is the seventh highest mountain in the world, located in western Nepal.
“There was heavy snowfall when the team was returning from the peak. Bhattacharya complained of snow blindness and collapsed. He died soon after at an altitude of 7,600 metres,” said Mingma Sherpa of Kathmandu-based Seven Summit Treks, the expedition organiser.
Snow blindness, or photokeratitis, is a painful and temporary loss of vision caused by overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. It is, however, not known to cause deaths. The expedition organisers suspect Bhattacharya may have had a heart attack due to lack of oxygen.
“There were Sherpa guides with him when the incident occurred. We still don’t know what was the exact cause of death,” said Nivesh Karki, another official of Seven Summit Treks.
Bhattacharya’s body is still on the mountain and efforts are underway to airlift it to Kathmandu by helicopter. Inclement weather condition in the area delayed the operation, Sherpa said.
Known among climbers from West Bengal, Bhattacharya had earlier scaled Mt Everest in 2011 and Mt Kanchenjunga in 2013.