Death in focus again in Nepal Himalayas
Sunday morning's avalanche which claimed lives of nine climbers (three still missing) on Manaslu, the 8th highest peak in the world with an altitude of 8,156 metres, has again brought into focus the dangers of mountain climbing in the Himalayas. Utpal Parashar reports.world Updated: Sep 27, 2012 01:04 IST
Sunday morning's avalanche which claimed lives of nine climbers (three still missing) on Manaslu, the 8th highest peak in the world with an altitude of 8,156 metres, has again brought into focus the dangers of mountain climbing in the Himalayas.
Avalanches have always posed a grave threat to climbers in Himalayan peaks including Manaslu. Fifteen people including four Koreans, one Japanese and 10 Nepali Sherpas were killed in the peak in an early morning avalanche on April 10, 1972.
Another major avalanche that claimed 18 lives (seven French nationals and 11 Nepali Sherpas) took place on Kang Guru (6,981 metres), in the Manang region of Nepal in October 2005.
As Manaslu provides "feasible approaches from all direction", it is popular among climbers who consider it an easier climb and use it as rehearsal before attempting taller ones.
But records show 66 climbers have perished between 1950 and 2011 on the slopes of Manaslu. If one includes Sunday's casualties, the list increases to 75.
"The three most dangerous peaks Annapurna 1, Manaslu and Dhaulagiri 1 are in the 8,000m to 8,499m range and their death rates are strongly affected by avalanches," wrote Richard Salisbury and Elizabeth Hawley in the 2007 statistical compilation 'The Himalaya by the Numbers'.
The compilation lists Dhaulagiri IV (7,661 metres), a peak close to Dhaulagiri, the seventh-highest peak with an altitude of 8,167 metres, as the most dangerous peak for all climbers in Nepal Himalayas.
Advanced climbing gear, weather prediction data and route preparation done ahead of each climbing season have made climbing more accessible and commercial in the past two decades.
But the threat to life remains. Over 800 climbers have been killed in the past six decades on peaks above 6,000 metres in the Nepal Himalayas.
Avalanches, followed by falls, have been the leading cause of casualties. Exhaustion, acute mountain sickness, exposure/ frostbite, falling rock/ice, disappearance and illness are the other major causes.