A trekker from Dehra, in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, who was stranded in Umasi La, a mountain pass connecting Kishtwar with Zansker in Jammu and Kashmir, was found dead by rescuers on Sunday.
“An Indian Air Force (IAF) rescue team found Arun Sharma, 30, dead at Roha base camp below Umasi pass. His body couldn’t be airlifted as it was frozen. A six-member team has been dispatched to lift the body,” an official said.
The IAF had deployed two choppers on Sunday to rescue Sharma who got stuck at Roha base camp of Umasi La, located at an altitude of 17,300 feet (5,342 metres), after falling ill. He was stationed in a tent with sufficient food supply.
Earlier in the morning, IAF choppers went on two sorties to evacuate Sharma, but failed as they were unable to cross Umasi La owing to bad weather.
“The rescuers managed to cross in the third attempt, but unfortunately the trekker was dead by then, possibly due to hypothermia, as it was snowing in the area,” said a member of the rescue teams, adding that the chopper couldn’t land due to sloppy terrains, so the frozen body couldn’t be lifted.
Sharma with his friend Rijul Gill, also from Dharamsala, had left for Umasi La on August 9 from Killar, the sub-divisional headquarters of tribal Pangi valley in Chamba of Himachal Pradesh.
They ascended the pass from near Gulabgarh in Kishtwar. Sharma fell ill after reaching Roha base camp on August 12.
His companion Gill reached Zansker in Kargil to seek help after over one-and-a-half day of trekking.
The spot where Sharma was stranded is over 100 km from Killar in Chamba and can be accessed by trekking only, while it is at a 12-hour distance from Zansker side.
Kullu deputy commissioner Rakesh Kanwar organised for the rescue after an alarming message on a WhatsApp group about the stranded trekker on Saturday.
He was in regular touch with Kargil civil administration and the trekker. “It is really sad to hear about his demise,” Kanwar said.
An ardent mountain lover
Sharma, a software engineer, was an ardent mountain lover. He and Gill had successfully completed a trek through Poat La (5,490 metres) in the same region just a day before they ascended to Umasi La.
Sharma was working with Dell, a multinational computer company, at Gurgaon. He had got married just a year ago. He is survived by his mother and wife.