“It snowed continuously all day on Tuesday and till midnight, and there was more than 1m of snow,” said Sonam Lama, a mountaineering guide with 16 years of experience who knows the region well.
Heavy snowfall and small avalanches from above buried the team’s tents and equipment, and members were forced to spend the night under a rock overhang. The next morning the visibility was too poor for a rescue flight, and the helicopter finally arrived on the afternoon of 30 December.
The team had just finished carrying out a topographical scan and a geophysical survey of the depth of the fluvial deposits at Bhemthang from the July floods. The data will be processed to see if there is danger of more floods from the debris field, or the glaciers further up the Pemdang and Melamchi rivers.
“We scanned the sediment deposits up to a depth of 100m to see if there is a risk of it being washed down in future,” said Hari Ghimire, leader of the research team. “We measured the depth and volume of debris, but the data will take some time to be processed.”