Spanish climber perishes in Himalayas

May 6th, 2008 - 4:44 pm ICT by admin  

Kathmandu, May 6 (IANS) The year 2008, the most controversial in the history of mountaineering, has claimed its first victim, with a Spanish mountaineer perishing in the high Himalayan slopes. Rafael Guillen, 35, who was part of a four-member expedition to Mt Dhaulagiri, the seventh highest peak in the world at 8,167m, fell to his death during the weekend.

The Spanish climber, who had aborted his bid to reach the summit, died trying to help fellow climber Jesus Morales from their Himalaya Maestrat expedition, mountaineering web site reported Monday.

Morales, who had reportedly reached the peak of Mt Dhaulagiri with an Argentinian climber, developed frostbite and hypothermia during the descent. Guillen, who went to help him, apparently slipped and fell to his death.

The climber’s death has cast a cloud over expeditions to the Himalayas, already gloomy since China slapped on a ban on Mt Everest and Cho Oyu, the sixth largest peak, in an unprecedented move this year to prevent protests by Tibet activists.

Under pressure from its giant neighbour, Nepal too has announced a ban on expeditions to the world’s highest peak till May 10, by which time the Chinese authorities are expected to take the Olympic flag to the 8,848m summit and come down.

However, with bad weather and torrential winds lashing the peak, the Chinese team has not been able to scale the peak, deepening the uncertainty among other climbers who are kicking their heels in the lower camps.

Although China has remained tight-lipped about the summit date, reports said the team was to have made the attempt last week but failed due to bad weather.

Climbers are now speculating if Nepal would extend the May 10 ban if the Chinese are unable to take the torch to the peak in the next four days.

Reports from climbers, censored by Nepal government authorities, also say that there is a sizeable presence of troops and helicopters in the Everest region, turning it into a virtual combat zone.

Nepal recently deported an American climber after he was found to be carrying a “Free Tibet” banner in his backpack.

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