25 Oct 2010

Sherpa missing after avalanche

8:51 am on 25 October 2010

A Nepalese Sherpa who is famous in mountaineering circles for climbing Mount Everest 19 times, is missing on another peak in the Himalayas.

Chhewang Nima, 43, was struck by an avalanche near the summit of Mount Baruntse.

The BBC reports he was fixing ropes at an elevation of 7,045 metres (23,114 feet) while guiding a private expedition trying to reach the peak (7,129 metres).

A helicopter will join a search for him on Monday if high winds die down.

The other climbers searched for Mr Nima after the accident on Saturday but were unable to find him.

A helicopter has been sent to the team's base camp but was unable to take off on Sunday because of strong winds.

Jiban Ghimire, of Sherpa Shangri-la Treks & Expedition said Mr Nima was on the north slope of the mountain fixing the ropes when he was knocked over and down the north-east slope by the avalanche.

No-one else was caught in the avalanche.

Mr Ghimire said it was possible that because of Mr Nima's skills and experience he may still be alive.

"He's a good climber, he knows how to survive," he told the BBC.

Mr Ghimire said the climber had worked for the expedition company for 10 years.

The record for the most summits of Everest, 20, is held by another Nepalese climber, Appa Sherpa.