Four summitters of the Sri Kailash Expedition, Fall 2018; who had sustained cold injuries on summit day, 21.10.2018, will lose multiple fingers and toes to frostbite.
This ill-fated expedition was organized by the West Bengal Mountaineering and Adventure Sports Foundation (WBMASF), a wing of the Youth Services Department of the Government of West Bengal, India.
All expeditions to the Indian Himalayas, above 6,000 meters, need prior written permission from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) in New Delhi. This nodal agency, though a Non-Governmental Organization, has, since its inception, been mandated by the Ministry of Home and Ministry of Defense of the Government of India, to oversee mountaineering in the Indian Himalayas.
Our independent investigations reveal that WBMASF had sought and had been granted prior permission to climb Mt. Sudarshan during the period September-October 2018. This was confirmed by Col Chauhan, President, IMF. He further assured us that neither any permission was sought for them nor was granted for Mt. Sri Kailash. “This expedition by WBMASF was approved for Mt. Sudarshan; we are yet to receive the report from them” said Col Chauhan.
All our efforts to contact Mr. Debdas Nandi, Chief Advisor to WBMASF, proved futile, as he refused to answer our repeated calls. Inquiries at his offices proved equally futile, as they refused to answer any questions and insisted that any and all questions regarding this particular expedition shall be answered only by Mr. Debdas Nandi.
This deafening silence, especially in the absence of an official report even after two months, lends credence to the suspicion that, probably, the organizers have not only many a question to answer but also many an impropriety to hide.
(We've provided some photographs but viewers may find them disturbing. Hence, viewer’s discretion is advisable)
As for the question behind the horrendous life-changing injury suffered by the climbers, the answers this portal gathered are as follows:
a) inadequate pre-expedition knowledge of the route, and
b) inexperience of the summit team, and
c) shortage of rope to 'fix' the route to the summit, leading to
d) a long delay on the summit day, causing
e) prolonged exposure and cold injuries.
This blatant disregard of the statutory regulations and mountaineering logic raises many obvious questions
Who authorized this team to attempt a peak they did not have permission for?
Were all team members aware that they were being taken to an unsanctioned peak?
Who was/were responsible for selecting a team of inexperienced climbers (vide. leader) for a 6k+ m peak during early winter?
Who was/were responsible for ensuring the quality and quantity of climbing and personal equipment, tent, food etc.?
Why on summit day, after realizing that the team is incapable of climbing without Sherpa and rope and that a lot of time has been lost, did the leader not abandon the attempt and retreat to camp?
Why did it take 8 long days after the occurrence of injury for treatment to start?
Who will pay/reimburse the ongoing medical bills incurred in long-term treatment of these climbers? more so because the leading English daily of the city, the Telegraph, reports that the Government is paying all bills but our investigations reveal that nothing has been paid till date to at least three of the victims including one Sherpa.
This cloak of secrecy seems as dark and putrid as the gangrene of these unfortunate climbers.