Over a week after mountaineer Chhanda Gayen along with two sherpas went missing while trying to climb the Kanchenjunga West peak, one of her team members, Nag Tashi, claimed he saw “Chhanda fall from the peak and (getting) swept away” in the avalanche.
Tashi, one among Gayen’s team members who returned to the base camp shortly after scaling the Kanchenjunga Main peak on May 18, said the trio “slipped and fell down from the cliff”, an eyewitness account of what mostly has been until now speculative reports on the climbers’ disappearance.
Mountaineers describe Tashi as “technically sound” and “experienced”. Speaking to this correspondent over the phone, Tashi said he warned Chhanda against going for the Main peak in the inclement weather but could not change her mind.
He describes the other two missing sherpas “like family members” and says he is under trauma ever since. As for Jaya Gayen, Chhanda’s mother, the trauma has shifted to questioning as she wants to know why Tashi “deserted her daughter and came down (without her)”.
Dipankar Ghosh, another mountaineer from the group that conquered the Main peak, met Chhanda’s family members at their Howrah residence.
He says Tashi may have given a “different version earlier just to keep himself on the safe side”.
Meanwhile, the state government reiterated that it is “ready with people who trek and carry out search operations”. “(We) are waiting for the weather to improve,” said Arup Biswas, state minister for youth affairs.