Two climbers from Kolkata are feared dead on Mount Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain with an elevation of 8,586 metre. According to reports, both Kolkata residents — Kuntal Karar, 46, and Biplab Baidya, 48 — died after suffering from altitude-related sickness. Baidya had made successfully to the summit, said sources.
Baidya and Karar, both of whom had scaled the Mount Everest a few years ago, started the 52-day expedition on April 4. The reports of the climbers’ death came just 10 days before the completion of the expedition, which was being conducting by Peak Promotion, a mountaineering agency in Nepal. Three more climbers from Bengal were also part of the expedition.
According to sources, Baidya was on top of the summit when he fell sick and a call for medical emergency was sent.
“Baidya and Karar (46) were at a height of 8,586 metres. Two more mountaineers, who were with them, are also reportedly sick. The fifth climber is likely to reach the base camp by Friday, while the other two will be taken to Kathmandu for treatment,” a group, who was co-ordinating the expedition from the ground, told The Indian Express.
Baidya was an employee of the West Bengal Pollution Control Board and Karar was a businessman. Baidya was a member of the Howrah District Mountaineers and Trekkers Association, said sources.
On Thursday, Peak Promotion informed their ground partners about the incident.
“It is very unfortunate, they were very close to me. Apart from Baidya and Karar, there are two others climbers, Ramesh Rai and Rudra Prasad Haldar, who are unwell. Our focus is to admit them to a hospital. They have already been brought down to camp II,” Moloy Mukherjee, who is member of West Bengal Mountaineering and Adventure Foundation, a wing of Department of Youth Services and Sports, Government of West Bengal, told The Indian Express.
Haldar is an Assistant Sub-inspector with the West Bengal Police, who had successfully scaled the Mount Everest in 2016. The fifth climber, Sheik Sahabuddin, is on his way down and is likely to reach the base camp on Friday.
“They were all professional climbers and have scaled the Everest before. They started this expedition on April 4 and were likely to complete it in 52 days,” another mountaineer and a friend of Baidya and Kara said on conditions of anonymity.
Haldar, Karar and Rai had left Kolkata on April 4, while the other two joined them on April 9. They were constantly being monitored by their ground partners. However, there was no contact with them since Wednesday afternoon.
“Both Baidya and Haldar were from Kolkata. We were able to track them live till 2.13 pm on Wednesday, after which we lost all connectivity with them. They were on the top of the summit. We received information of medical emergency by the agency, who is conducting this expedition. They apparently suffered high-altitude pulmonary edema,” said another climber from Kolkata, who is also a member of Howrah District Mountaineers and Trekkers Association.
The peak climbing season starts from late April and continue till May-end.
The Howrah District Mountaineers and Trekkers Association is a nodal club for mountaineers from where Everester Malay Mukherjee had got training. Mukherjee and Chhanda Gayen, who had also climbed the Everest and lost her life trying to scale Kanchenjunga from the western side in 2014, are the two big names in the field of mountaineering that have emerged from Howrah in recent years. Baidya was another name to reckon with as he climbed the Everest in 2015 from the tough North Column.