Four climbers from West Bengal who had been missing for nearly four days while scaling Mount Ali Ratni Tibba, a 18,000-feet-high peak in Himachal Pradesh, have been found by rescue teams sent by the Himachal Pradesh administration on Sunday.
The climbers are Abhijit Banik, 43, Chinmoy Mondal, 43, Dibash Das, 37, and Binoy Das, 31. Abhijit is from Kolkata but works in Jamshedpur. Dibash is from Kolkata, too. Chinmoy is from Bankura but stays in Barasat, while Binoy is a resident of Howrah.
The rescue team, which was led by Avinash Negi, director of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, found the climbers near Camp 1. Earlier, they had been spotted by pilots of an air force helicopter.
Negi said the pilots informed them that they had spotted the group of four near Camp 1. “All four are physically fit and are supposed to be brought down by our team to the base camp on Monday,” Negi told The Telegraph on Sunday.
The four were part of a group of six climbers from West Bengal who had reached Manali on August 21. Abhijit, Chinmoy, Dibash and Binoy set out from the summit camp at 5am on September 7. The other two members of the team, Manoj Nath and Sourojeet Basu, stayed back with their sherpa, Lakhpa Sherpa.
Lakhpa told this newspaper that he had last seen the climbers around 4pm on September 8, while they were negotiating a stretch that was visible from the summit camp.
As the climbers failed to return to the summit camp by the evening of September 8, Lakhpa and the two climbers who had not set out for the summit descended to the nearest roadhead in Malana and alerted the district administration.
Devraj Biswas, a member of the governing council of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) who was tracking the rescue operation, said their was no news from the climbers for more than 72 hours.
Veteran mountaineer Debabrata Mukherjee, who climbed Mount Everest in 2014, said Ali Ratni Tibba is known as a rock tower in mountaineering parlance. Scaling the peak, he said, requires extensive knowledge of rock climbing.
Biswas, who summited Everest in 2016, said it was a “miracle” that the climbers were found alive.