NEW DELHI: ITBP climbers brought down the bodies of seven mountaineers found dead on the Nanda Devi East peak in Uttarakhand in May to a lower base on Tuesday after battling inclement weather for more than a fortnight.
ITBP spokesman Vivek Kumar Pandey said the team is trying to move the bodies to a base camp further down the mountain so that they can be airlifted in a day or two.
The team had to dug out the bodies, which included that of a woman climber, buried under the snow on the western ridge of the peak towards the Pindari glacier on June 23.
Led by ace mountaineer and second-in-command rank officer Ratan Singh Sonal, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police team had set out for the mission over a fortnight ago and has been battling all odds to bring down the bodies first spotted by Indian Air Force choppers on June 3.
Eight mountaineers had set out on an expedition of the 7,434-metre-high peak but were reported missing on May 25, the day they were to reach their base camp. One of them is still missing.
Pandey said the seven bodies have been brought down to base camp 2 located at 17,000 feet, from 18,900 feet where they were found.
"The ITBP team is now trying to take the bodies to base camp 1, at 15,250 feet, by Tuesday night so that they can be airlifted by Wednesday. However, the progress of the mission depends on the weather," he said.
Officials said the bodies have not been identified yet and it will be possible only after they are brought down to the base camp.
The ill-fated expedition was led by well-known British mountaineer Martin Moran, who had scaled the peak twice. The mountaineers had left Munsyari on May 13 to scale the peak in Pithoragarh district.
The team included seven members from the UK, Australia and the US, besides a liaison officer from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation.
Seven of the eight members of the team are John McLaren, Richard Payne and Rupert Havel (from the UK), Ruth Macrain (Australia), Anthony Sudekum and Rachel Bimmel (US), and liaison officer Chetan Pandey.