Koreans, 4 Nepalese retrieved from mountain

The nine climbers who died during a storm on a Nepal mountain included Kim Chang-ho, who was the first South Korean to summit all 14 Himalayan peaks over 8,000 meters without using supplemental oxygen.

Kathmandu - Five South Korean climbers and their four Nepali guides have been killed after their base camp in the Himalayas was ravaged by a storm, local police and hiking officials said on Sunday. "Going by the colour of their skin four bodies must be of Korean climbers, while two are Nepalese [guides]", Mr Budhamagar said.

Police official Bir Bahadur Budhamagar said rescuers helped by locals retrieved the bodies of the nine climbers from near their basecamp at Mount Gurja, a 7193 metre-high peak, located roughly 216km northwest of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu.

The permit listed four South Korean climbers, but a fifth member joined the team later, according to Mr Suresh Dakal of Trekking Camp Nepal.

"A massive block of ice (serac), probably 100 metres (330 ft) tall, likely fell from the mountain along a gorge, sending strong winds that hit the camp, threw the climbers off a cliff edge and into a ravine", Paudyal told Reuters on Monday.

Four Nepalese guides also were killed when a storm swept their base camp on Gurja Himal mountain Friday. Compare that to Mt. Everest, which more than 4,800 climbers have summited - many of them sherpa who have achieved the feat a few times.

"We notified the family members of the dead climbers that it's hard to go to Nepal", the official said.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, an amateur hiking enthusiast who visited Nepal in 2016, expressed his condolences, saying the victims displayed a "great spirit that's about respecting nature while simultaneously trying to overcome it".

A helicopter reached the site and managed to land just above the expedition team's camp, but were unable to retrieve any of the bodies.

"Base camp looks like a bomb went off", added Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a US-based emergency assistance group assisting in the retrieval effort.

The bodies are being kept at the Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital morgue, where doctors will conduct autopsies before the bodies are handed over to family members.

Spring and autumn are the optimal climbing seasons in Nepal in between the harsh winter and summer monsoon.

The rarely-climbed Mount Gurja sits in Nepal's Annapurna region, next to avalanche-prone Dhaulagiri, the world's seventh highest mountain.

  • Tracy Klein