Search Called Off On Manaslu

Greg Hill and Glen Plake survive massive avalanche on Nepalese peak

Nepal's Manaslu is the world's eighth tallest mountain PHOTO: Joan C. Bullon

Update 3:30 PM PST, Friday Oct. 5

Rémy Lécluse’s body was found on Mt. Manaslu.

UPDATE: 11:00 PST, Monday Sept. 24.
Early Monday morning, the Nepalese rescue called off the search for missing climbers on Manaslu. The head of French Mountain Guides Syndicate gave a press conference in Chamonix, and stated that, “the rescue teams feel they did all they could to find further victims, but they have now given up all hope of finding any more survivors. The search has been called off for good."

Rémy Lécluse and Greg Costa, as well as Canadian Dominique Ouimet are still missing. Eight people have been confirmed as dead and 10 climbers are injured and in a Katmandu hospital. The names of the injured parties in the hospital haven’t been released.

According to an e-mail exchange with American Nate Wallace, who is currently stationed in Chamonix and introduced Lécluse and Plake in Chamonix several years ago, “Remy was extremely motivated and passionate about skiing first descents and skiing difficult lines in big mountains. He made that his life, his job and his passion.”

Around 5 a.m. Sunday morning, a 600- to 700-meter-wide serac broke loose caused an avalanche that struck Camp 3 on 8,156-meter Manaslu (26,759 feet), the Nepalese peak that is the eighth-highest mountain in the world.

Ski icon Glen Plake and renowned ski mountaineer Greg Hill were members of different expeditions on the mountain. Hill was camped below Plake at Camp 2 when the avalanche struck, while Plake shared a tent with Greg Costa at 7,000-meter Camp 3. Plake came away bruised and missing teeth, but he and Hill were otherwise fine after the devastating slide. Reports are still vague, but the Adventure Journal indicates that nine people have been confirmed dead, with six still missing, including Costa and French Arc’teryx athlete Rémy Lécluse.

According to Eric Hjorleifson, who was rumored to be there but is home in Whistler, B.C., a crew of Dynafit athletes were there to speed ascend and descend the mountain. Hill was there to film the feat. Hjorleifson had joined the crew for a warm-up on 6,476-meter Mera Peak three weeks earlier. He said that because China shut down their borders, all the expeditions had ended up on Manaslu. There were 25 tents at Camp 3 and 12 at Camp 2, according to Epic TV.

A report on that website said Plake and Costa were awake in their tent when they heard a roar. "That was a big gust of wind," said Costa. "No, that was an avalanche."

Moments later, the slide struck their tent. The avalanche swept Plake 300 meters over a serac, until he came to a stop still in his sleeping bag inside his tent. But Costa, Lécluse, and several others were missing. Hill posted on his Facebook page that he was OK.