The state government is in the process of putting together a team of mountaineers, who are to embark on a mission to retrieve the mortal remains of ace climber and Everest summiteer Chhanda Gayen and two Sherpas in the treacherous snows of Kanchenjunga.
Chhanda went missing after she ran into hostile weather while on a trek down Kanchenjunga west on May 20 last year and is now presumed dead.
The mission is the first of its kind to be undertaken by an Indian mountaineering body and the brief for the climbers assigned the job would be to locate and retrieve the bodies of Chhanda and the two missing Sherpas.
Adding another feather to her cap after acing the Everest expedition in May 2013, Chhanda, with Sherpas Daowa Wangchu and Mingma Temba in tow, climbed 8,506 metres to peak Kanchenjunga (main) on May 18, 2013.
However, disaster struck after she chose to turn back barely 200 metres away from the peak of Kanchenjunga (west). Chhanda and her Sherpas ran into a blizzard and are believed to have been buried by an avalanche.
“We’ve been tasked with forming an expedition team that would climb to Camp IV of Kanchenjunga (west). We believe Chhanda went missing somewhere between the summit and Camp IV,” Everest summiteer Ujjwal Roy, who heads the advisory committee for adventure sports under the state department for youth affairs, told HT.
With no word on Chhanda, the state government dispatched a rescue team to trace the missing climber in May last year. The team, headed by Roy, also comprised fellow climbers Rajib Bhattacharya and Debdas Nandy.
However, midway though the journey, they ran into bad weather, and were forced to abandon the search.
The government then promised a fresh mission around April or May 2015, as soon as the mountain was safe for an expedition.
“I would soon write to the state youth affairs department, seeking the government’s intervention in locating my sister,” Jyotirmoy Gayen, Chhanda’s brother, told HT.