NEW DELHI: Mountaineers of the ITBP Thursday launched an over a week-long expedition from Pithorgarh in Uttarakhand to retrieve the mortal remains of at least eight climbers who were killed last month in an avalanche near an unscaled peak adjoining Nanda Devi East.
"A team of 11 specially chosen personnel of the force, many of whom have conquered the Mount Everest and other peaks, today began their operation to retrieve the mortal remains of the climbers," Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.
"The personnel, led by our second-in-command rank officer Ratan Singh Sonal, will be aided by other ground teams and will trek over a 100 kilometres to finally reach the site where the bodies of the climbers were last spotted," he said.
Pandey said the team of the ITBP, a border guarding force tasked to guard the China border, is expected to reach the base camp in a week and after required acclimatisation, it will attempt to retrieve the bodies.
"It will be a very challenging mission as the site is located at about 20,000 feet in between glaciers and other snow hazard-prone areas. Air support will also be taken for logistics in the course of the operation," he said.
Eight Mountaineers, including from the US, the UK and Australia, were reported missing after they left Munsiyari on May 13 to scale the 7,434-metre tall peak but did not return to the base camp on the scheduled date of May 25.
The team was led by British mountaineer Martin Moran. It was a 12-member group out of which four were rescued. Indian Air Force helicopters had spotted five bodies on June 3 after multiple sorties to trace them.
The missing mountaineers comprised seven from the UK, the US and Australia, and a liaison officer from Delhi's Indian Mountaineering Foundation.
The route to the peak begins from Munsiyari, about 132 km from Pithrogarh district headquarters. The district is about 456 km from state capital Dehradun.