The mountaineering fraternity lost one of its tallest heroes to a Himalayan avalanche last week. Chhewang Nima Sherpa (43) got buried under snow on Mt. Baruntse (7129 m) while fixing ropes to reach the summit.
One of the most sought-after climbing guides in Nepal, Nima, who ascended Mt. Everest 19 times (one short of the record set by Apa Sherpa in May) was with an expedition comprising British and American climbers.
The humble and mild mannered Sherpa had scaled Mt. Everest twice earlier this year and was planning two more attempts in spring next year to replace Apa from the record books. But fate had other things in store.
“Chhewang Nima was a highly talented and dynamic mountaineer greatly respected for his leadership skills. Nepal has lost a great hero,” said And Tshering Sherpa, former chief of Nepal Mountaineering Association.
The autumn climbing season which is drawing to a close recorded six other deaths. Three Japanese climbers and one Nepali guide died in an avalanche on Mt. Dhaulagiri (8167 m) on September 28.
A Japanese climber died at the base camp of Mt. Manaslu (8163 m) four days earlier while a 39-year old Italian died from a fatal fall on October 3 while climbing Mt Cho-Oyu (8201 m).
Amid the gloom of the deaths, the ascent of Mt. Everest by six members of the Save the Poles Everest Expedition on October 15 was the only silver lining of the season.
With this ascent, a member of the team, US adventurer Eric Larsen, became the first person to reach the North and South Poles and climb Mt. Everest in one calendar year.