Bodies of Korean climbers killed on Nepal peak may return home Wednesday

Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains including Mount Everest and the autumn climbing season is now at its peak. — Reuters pic

Nepal is home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains including Mount Everest and the autumn climbing season is now at its peak. — Reuters pic

The disaster, which claimed the life of record-breaking Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, is the worst climbing accident to hit the Himalayan nation in two years.

'(They) fell off a cliff and died'.

Grieving relatives received the bodies of the local Nepalese guides.

The group of South Korean climbers and their Nepali guides had been camped at the foot of the 7,193-metre (23,599-foot) Mount Gurja since early October, waiting for a window of good weather so they could attempt to reach the summit. But the Italian was at 6,900 metres when his tent was swept off the mountain, whereas the South Korean team were below 4,000 metres when they were hit by powerful winds. "The conditions were too icy to continue the search", pilot Siddartha Gurung told AFP.

Four Nepalese sherpas were also killed.

Kim Chang-ho, who climbed the 14 highest mountains in the world in the fastest time in 2013, was one of the climbers who died. Compare that to Mt. Everest, which more than 4,800 climbers have summited - many of them sherpa who have achieved the feat a couple of times.

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A helicopter reached the site and managed to land just above the expedition team's camp, but were unable to retrieve any of the bodies.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, an amateur hiking enthusiast who visited Nepal in 2016, expressed his condolences, saying the victims displayed a "great spirit that's about respecting nature while simultaneously trying to overcome it".

Santa Lama of the Nepal Mountaineering Association, who helped with coordinating the rescue, said since all nine people at the camp were killed and no surviving witnesses it was hard to say what exactly happened or when.

An official from the Corean Alpine Club said the families of the deceased climbers and its club members originally planned to go to Nepal and cremate the bodies before transporting them to South Korea for funeral.

The climbers were on an expedition to make a new trekking route when their camp on Mount Gurja was swept away by a strong storm.

Despite not being as high as other Himalayan mountains in Nepal, Mount Gurja has seen only a fraction of the climbers of the world's highest peak, Mount Everest.

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