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Canadian reported among missing in Nepal avalanche; at least 9 climbers killed

Victim rescue

Simrik Air/AP In this photo provided by Nepalese airline Simrik Air, an injured victim, center, of an avalanche is rescued at the base camp of Mount Manaslu in northern Nepal, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012. The avalanche swept away climbers on a Himalayan peak in Nepal on Sunday, leaving at least nine dead and six others missing, officials said.

KATHMANDU, NEPAL—A Canadian from Revelstoke, B.C. survived an avalanche in Nepal that left at least nine dead and several others missing, a newspaper in Revelstoke says.

Another Canadian, a cardiologist from Quebec, is still unaccounted for, according to CBC News.

Greg Hill has been blogging and tweeting about skiing and mountain climbing in the Himalayas.

His last tweet from earlier this month says he was “off to try (his) luck on (Mount) Manaslu,” in northern Nepal, where officials say the avalanche hit climbers Sunday, killing at least nine.

Dipendra Paude of Nepal’s tourism ministry, which controls all international climbing expeditions, told U.K. paper The Telegraph the dead climbers were from Spain, Germany and Nepal.

Those missing include five French nationals, a Canadian and an Italian climber, The Telegraph said.

Foreign Affairs officials in Ottawa were not immediately available for comment.

The Revelstoke Times Review says Hill wrote on Facebook this morning that “a huge avalanche swept through camp 3 at 4:45 am on Manaslu, catching lots of people in their sleeping bags, many dead, and injured.

“Luckily our team is fine, and helped with the rescue, Glenn Plake is also fine but my heart goes out to all the others.”

Just two days ago, ESPN reported Hill was planning to climb Mount Manaslu and made it to “7,000 meters earlier this week before a blizzard and dangerously hollow snow forced his and Plake’s teams back down the mountain to wait for better weather.”

Plake’s team, which ESPN said includes Rémy Lécluse and Greg Costa, spent “the prior few weeks acclimatizing and dodging storms.” The team wants “to become the first to ski the world’s eighth highest peak without oxygen.”

On Sunday, police official Basanta Bahadur Kuwar said the bodies of a Nepalese guide and a German man were recovered and that rescue pilots had spotted seven other bodies on the slopes of Mount Manaslu , the eighth-highest mountain in the world.

In Madrid, Spain’s Foreign Ministry said one of those killed was Spanish, but did not release the person’s identity.

The identities of the other victims were still being confirmed.

Ten other climbers survived the avalanche but many were injured and were flown to hospitals by rescue helicopters, Kuwar said.

Rescue pilot Pasang, who uses only one name, said three injured French citizens and two Germans had been transported to hospitals in Kathmandu.

He said rescuers were also attempting to bring the bodies of the dead back to the base camp.

Weather conditions were deteriorating and it was not possible to continue air searches of the mountain Sunday afternoon, Kuwar said.

The avalanche hit the climbers at a camp at 7,000 metres (22,960 feet) early in the morning as they were preparing to head toward the summit, which is 8,156 metres (26,760 feet) high.

There were Italian, German and French teams on the mountain, with a total of 231 climbers and guides, but not all were at the higher camps, officials said.

It is currently the beginning of Nepal’s autumn mountaineering season. The autumn season comes right after the end of the monsoon rains, which make weather conditions unpredictable, and is not as popular among mountaineers as the spring season, when hundreds of climbers crowd the high Himalayan peaks.

Nepal has eight of the 14 highest peaks in the world. Climbers have complained in recent years that climbing conditions have deteriorated and risks of accidents have increased.

Veteran mountain guide Apa, who has climbed Mount Everest a record 21 times, travelled for months across Nepal earlier this year campaigning about the effects of global warming on the mountain peaks.

He told The Associated Press the mountains now have considerably less ice and snow, making it harder for climbers to use ice axes and crampons on their boots to get a grip on the slopes.

Loose snow also increases the risk of avalanches.

Officials were investigating the cause of Sunday’s avalanche.

With files from Karissa Donkin

thestar.com – News

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