Video: Nanda Devi Climbers’ Last Moments Before Going Missing

The bodies of seven climbers were retrieved by a 15-member ITBP team from an arduous height of 19,000 feet.

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The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on Monday, 8 July, shared the visuals of the final moments of an ill-fated mountaineers’ team which went missing on the way to the Nanda Devi East peak in Uttarakhand in May.

The bodies of seven climbers were retrieved by a 15-member ITBP team from an arduous height of 19,000 feet of the 7,434 metre tall Nanda Devi East peak.

The visuals show the eight climbers tied together by a rope cautiously scaling an unnamed peak. “ITBP search team of mountaineers found the memory video device at 19K ft while they were searching the area where bodies were spotted,” a tweet shared by the ITBP along with the visuals said.

Speaking after the video was released, ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar told AFP, “Suddenly we noticed a loud noise. The video went blank and stopped… They were crossing a very dangerous ridge. The snow cornice must have given way because of their weight, triggering an avalanche.”


An Arduous Mission

The ITBP climbers, led by second-in-command rank officer Ratan Singh Sonal, clocked 500 hours spanning over 15 days to bring back the mortal remains of the seven climbers on 3 July, so that their families find a closure of the tragic episode.

The bodies, comprising six foreigners and one Indian, were first spotted by the Indian Air Force's (IAF) search planes on 3 June, after they were reported missing on 25 May.

The eighth body of team leader and noted British mountaineer Martin Moran could not be located due to heavy snowfall in the area.


On Monday, ITBP Director General SS Deswal felicitated the team of mountaineers who were involved in search and retrieval mission as part of the ‘Daredevils’ operation.

Deswal declared that the ITBP team, who he said showed exemplary courage and grit in retrieving seven out of the eight bodies, will be decorated with the DG insignia, the highest service decoration in the force.

The DG also gave cash reward of Rs 25,000 to Sonal, while the rest were handed out Rs 20,000 each.

The force is also recommending their names for gallantry medals, a senior official said.

Speaking about mission, Ratan Singh Sonal told AFP:

“We put our own lives at risk and undertook the operation by foot. We slept with the dead bodies on the side for days… At night we would bury the bodies under snow outside our tents to slow down the decomposition process.”

(With inputs from AFP and PTI.)

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