A rescue team Sunday began retrieving the bodies of nine climbers killed in a violent storm on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp where the South Korean climbing expedition was staying when powerful winds and snow swept through, killing the entire team and scattering their bodies.
“All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down,” said Siddartha Gurung, a chopper pilot who is coordinating the retrieval mission.
Gurung did manage to reach the area, and described a scene of total destruction.
“Base camp looks like a bomb went off,” said Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a US-based emergency assistance group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.
The expedition was led by experienced South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who has climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.
Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit while still at base camp at around 3,500 meters.
The team—five South Koreans and four Nepali guides—had been on the 7,193-meter Mount Gurja since early October, hoping to scale the rarely climbed mountain via a new route.