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Despite tragedy, Ecuadoran climbers eye Nepali peak

25 september 2012, 18:46
0
Three Ecuadorans who survived an avalanche in Nepal that killed at least nine people at the weekend still aim to top out on Manaslu, the world's eighth highest mountain, AFP reports according to their trainer.

"Our expedition is continuing. Spirits are fine. And, most importantly conditions on the mountain are good," Ivan Vallejo said in a statement in his website.

Vallejo, who is in Nepal, said the Somos Ecuador (We are Ecuador) team -- Oswaldo Freire, Carla Perez and Esteban Mena -- were at the base camp when the avalanche hit and were not hurt.

He said that on Tuesday he would take the climbers from Kathmandu to the base camp so that they can then try to tackle the climb.

An air rescue mission was halted Monday as hopes faded for two French mountaineers and a Canadian who disappeared as a wall of snow hit their tents near the peak of 8,156-meter (26,759-foot) Manaslu in the early hours Sunday.

If the deaths are confirmed, the toll of 12 victims would make it the deadliest avalanche on the Himalayas since 2005 when a powder-snow avalanche hit a French expedition's base camp on Kang Guru, killing 18 people.

Eight of the dead have been identified, Nepal tourism board spokesman Sarad Pradhan told AFP, adding that four were French, one was a Nepali mountain guide, and there was one person each from Spain, Germany and Italy.

Manaslu is nicknamed "Killer Mountain" by locals because a series of avalanches have killed scores of mountaineers since it was first conquered in 1956. The latest deaths mean at least 62 people have died, according to an AFP tally.

It saw its worst disaster when a South Korean expedition was buried by snow while attempting to climb the northeast face in 1972. The 15 dead included 10 Sherpas and the Korean expedition leader.

Vallejo is one of three climbers who have reached the 14 highest mountain peaks in the world -- all over 8,000 meters --- without supplementary oxygen.

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