Search for 2 Missing Climbers Begins in Kachin State

By The Associated Press 10 September 2014

RANGOON — Helicopters will begin carrying out aerial surveys Wednesday for two mountaineers who lost contact with their base camp after scaling what has long been considered Burma’s tallest peak.

Myo Thant, leader of the Mountaineering Association, said an eight-member team set out to climb Hkakabo Razi in Kachin State last month, but due to the narrow nature of the summit, only two continued on the final stretch.

The men reached the ice-capped peak Aug. 31, but reported before making their descent that their battery was weak, he said. They were supposed to reconnect with their colleagues at base camp Monday, but did not show up.

The climb—the first ever to Hkakabo’s peak by an all-Burmese team—follows a debate over what is the country’s tallest mountain.

When the nation’s peaks were surveyed in 1925, back when the area was part of the British Indian empire, Mount Hkakabo was measured at 5,881 meters (19,295 feet), which would make it the highest, not only in the country but in all of Southeast Asia.

Thant said his climbers confirmed that height with a GPS device.

However, satellite and digital data, together with recent US, Russian and Chinese topographical maps, indicate the real title may belong to Gamlang, also in Kachin state.

A new, high-resolution survey has been commissioned.

The last person who scaled Hkakabo was Japanese climber Takashi Ozaki, who reached the peak in 1996.