Breaking: Three Missing in Khumbu Avalanche

Himalaya Nepal
Avalanche area as seen yesterday from a helicopter. Photo: The Himalayan Times

Three young French climbers are missing on Mingbo Eiger after a massive avalanche struck the west face of this 6,017m peak near Ama Dablam. Some of the best climbers in Nepal have arrived in the area to help. But hopes of finding the French alpinists alive are close to nil.

The missing climbers are Thomas Arfi, Louis Pachoud, and Gabriel Miloche, according to Le Dauphine. They are members of an eight-person group belonging to France’s GEAN (the national climbing team), who are climbing several peaks in the Khumbu.

Facts were confusing at first, as the GEAN climbers divided into smaller groups, each targeting different mountains. Earlier this week, we reported that one of the other GEAN groups had opened a new route on Nare Ri Shar.

The French Federation of Mountain Clubs (FFCAM) issued a press release about the Mingbo Eiger climbers. It stated that the three young guides and aspiring guides “had planned four days for this ascent”.

Gabriel Miloche, one of the missing climbers. Photo: DR/Le Dauphine

It went on: “After a whole day of scouting with binoculars to assess the snow conditions and ensure the weather window, they decide to begin the ascent. On the evening of [October] 26, contact was established by satellite phone from the bivouac where the climbers were installed. The first day of climbing went smoothly.”

No news, and a major avalanche

Concern grew, as time went on without news. Finally, the French Embassy launched an aerial search yesterday. A helicopter found that a major avalanche had swept the face, according to Montagnes Magazine. Pilots also spotted some gear at the base of the slope.

Today, Nepal’s National Mountain Guides Association deployed a team of some of the best climbers in the country to help with the search, The Himalayan Times reported. Among the rescuers are IFMGA guides Mingma Gyalje Sherpa (aka Mingma G), Vinayak Malla,  Ang Dawa Sherpa, Tshering Sherpa, and Pemba Gyalzen Sherpa.

Meanwhile, the head of the GEAN group, Stephane Benoist, confirmed that the climbers had separated into two teams. He said they were all devastated. They presume that an avalanche had swept away the missing climbers.


About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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26 days ago

Eventually miracles happen.Hope to find then.

Lord Kris
Lord Kris
25 days ago

Why were they climbing without permits ?

24 days ago

What is the real name of the peak they were attempting? There is no such peak as “Mingbo Eiger”, a bastard name combining real place “Mingbo” as in Mingbo Kharka (pasture) and Mingbo La (pass) and a famous Swiss peak. North of pass is Ombigaichan, which is now a (difficult) trekking peak. South of the pass on the same ridge is a nameless 6207m summit. Is this the “Mingbo Eiger”? Or wehere it is? No fitting summits at 6040 meters, which was mentioned somewhere. How can we start guessing about possible permit or lack of it if we can not… Read more »