"The Indian embassy in Kathmandu has taken up the matter with the Nepal government."
By Anil Giri

Kathmandu, May 22 - Indian mountaineer Chhanda Gayen, the second civilian woman from West Bengal to scale Mount Everest, has gone missing while she was on way to climb the 8,505-metre Kanchenjunga West peak, an official here said Thursday.

Gayen and two Sherpa guides accompanying her were swept away by an avalanche Monday evening and might be buried under tonnes of snow, the official said adding that she was on way to climb the Kanchenjunga West peak, also known as Yalung Kang.

The Indian climber had earlier Monday scaled the main 8,585-metre Mt Kanchenjunga, the third highest summit in the world, along with her two Sherpa guides, said Madhusudhan Burlakoti, chief of mountaineering division in Nepal's tourism ministry.

We came to know that she perished in avalanches after descending from the top of Mt Kanchenjunga and on the way to Yalung Kang. The two mountains share the same route until fourth camp, Burlakoti told IANS.

Gayen had set a record for climbing the 8,848-metre Mt Everest and the 8,516-metre Mt Lhotse in the same expedition within an interval of two days.

After tourism officials in Nepal came to know that Gayen, along with two Sherpas, went missing Monday evening, they started rescue operations since Tuesday morning which did not yield any result until Thursday.

Due to bad weather, we could not resume the rescue bid, Burlakoti said.

Burlakoti, who had interacted with her before she embarked upon the expedition, found her very active and full of zeal to set more records in climbing mountains.

She told me that she had set many goals but I don't know what happened to her, said an emotional Burlakoti.

Gayen was the only female mountaineer to have obtained permission to climb Kanchenjunga West during this season.

The Indian embassy in Kathmandu has taken up the matter with the Nepal government.

(Anil Giri can be contacted at [email protected])


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