It is a sad day for Northern Ireland, as one of its most renowned climbers, Noel Hanna, has died on Mt Annapurna in Nepal. Hanna was famous for climbing Mt Everest 10 times. Meanwhile, there was great relief for India yesterday as record-holding climbers Baljeet Kaur and Arjun Vajpai, who had gone missing on Mt Annapurna, were found alive, and climber Piyali Basak made it back to the base camp.
Kathmandu Post reported today that Noel Hanna died at Camp IV of Annapurna on Monday night. The news outlet said: “His body was found lying at Camp IV, according to Yubraj Khatiwada, director at the Department of Tourism.” Camp IV was the area from where Baljeet Kaur had gone missing on Monday night while descending from the summit point.
Tributes poured in after Hanna’s death, with headlines in United Kingdom media describing him as a “climbing legend”, a man who “lived for the mountains”, and more.
Hanna, 56, who was from Dromara in County Down, Northern Ireland, died during his descent after scaling the peak. BBC Nepali said, citing local reports, that his body had been airlifted to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.
In a tribute profile published today, Belfast Telegraph, a news daily in the capital city of Northern Ireland, cited what Hanna said in a 2016 interview: “There are gambles to climbing, but I think it is just the buzz of being up there and pushing your body to the extremes which drives you to do it.”
The Belfast Telegraph reported: “During his climbing career, he climbed six of the Seven Summits — the highest peaks on each continent — and has summited Mount Everest a remarkable 10 times, becoming the first person from Northern Ireland to achieve the feat.
“In addition, he climbed some of the most difficult and dangerous mountains in the world, becoming the first Northern Irishman to reach the top of K2, the second-highest mountain on Earth and the notoriously treacherous Nanga Parbat.”
The famed mountaineer’s sister Irene Hunter told BBC News NI’s Evening Extra that Hanna “loved a view and he just loved people”. She said that Hanna did not tell his family much about the dangers of this climb, because “he didn’t want to worry us all”. The sister informed the BBC show that her late brother’s body would be taken to the place where he began his career in climbing — at Finnis, close to the Mourne Mountains, a granite mountain range in County Down.
Three Indians return to safety
Baljeet Kaur and another record-holding Indian climber, Arjun Vajpai, have been rescued from the higher reaches of Mt Annapurna (8,091 metres high, making it the 10th highest mountain in the world). Another Indian climber, Piyali Basak, returned to the base camp. A fourth climber, Anurag Maloo, was missing till last night.
The Nepal authorities rescued Baljeet Kaur at 7,363 metres with a helicopter mission, using a longline technique (where the person being rescued holds on to a long line dropped from the helicopter), said Pioneer Adventure, her expedition agency.
After the rescue, Kaur was brought to the Annapurna Base Camp and was set to be flown to Kathmandu for a medical examination, said the agency in a press statement.
Arjun Vajpai, who in 2010 became the youngest Indian to climb Mt Everest, was rescued from an area between Camp III and Camp IV of Mt Annapurna. Khatiwada said that Vajpai was injured and that the search was on for Maloo, who went missing while descending from Camp IV on Monday.
For this year’s spring climbing season, Mt Annapurna saw the first summiting on April 15. Three helicopters each from Heli Everest, Simrik Air, and Kailash Helicopter are in service for rescue operations.
Bad weather had been expected. On April 4, at 1.21pm, Baljeet Kaur had tweeted: “Jai Hind. Hi everyone. Hope you all are doing great. We completed the first rotation till Camp 2 on Mount Annapurna yesterday. The route to Camp 3 is not yet open due to bad weather. We need your blessings and support.”
Three Sherpas buried in snow on Mt Everest slope
Hanna is the fourth person to have lost his life during this spring season on Everest and Annapurna. Three Sherpa guides buried in snow on Mt Everest were not found and after a point, the search for them was abandoned. They got buried when a huge mass of ice came rushing down the slope.
Imagine Nepal Trek and Expedition, which had mobilised the guides, said on its social media page: “With great sadness, we must share the devastating news of the demise of three of our Sherpa brothers, Dawa Tseri Sherpa, Pemba Tenzing Sherpa and Lakpa Rita Sherpa. Our hearts are heavy with grief as we mourn the loss of these brave brothers who dedicated their lives to guiding and supporting climbers. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families and loved ones.”