Climbers retreat to base camp

Paul and Shelley Hersey in January announce their plan to climb Anidesha Chuli. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Paul and Shelley Hersey in January announce their plan to climb Anidesha Chuli. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.

Chest-deep snow and a high avalanche risk forced Warrington couple Paul and Shelley Hersey to retreat to base camp on their final attempt to reach the summit of an unclimbed mountain in the Himalayas.

Reports from the couple on social media this week said they reached 5600m on Anidesha Chuli, but the snow and a lack of visibility made the couple decide to return to base camp with Australian climbing partner John Price.

''Huge amounts of snow, lots of avalanches, short windows of visibility and a worsened forecast of more snow and wind - up to galeforce towards the end of the week - helped the decision be made.

"A mix of emotions at base camp. Will start trekking out of base camp in a few days. Thanks for all the support and interest shown. Shelley, Paul and John,'' the post said.

An earlier post by the couple revealed plans to establish base camp at 5000m and they then had 24 days to climb 6800m Anidesha Chuli, known as the White Wave.

Anidesha Chuli is in the Kangchendzonga region of eastern Nepal, bordering both India and China.

If Mrs Hersey had reached the summit, she would have become the first New Zealand woman to reach the top of an unclimbed mountain of that height.

Mr Hersey, talking to the ODT in January, said he expected the most challenging part of the climb would be getting through the 1000m icefall on the last two or three days of the expedition.

Queenstown climber Ben Dare was rescued from the mountain last May when his climbing partner, Scott Blackford-Scheele, fell 90m, sustaining a head injury.

At the time, the pair were 400m from the summit.

shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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