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  Mt. Everest 2005: Chaitanya on the summit of Mt Everest but many questions remain....

Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya on the summit of Mt Everest

The Air Force Team summited Mt Everest. Wg Cdr R C Tripathi, Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya, who died on the way down, Sgt NR Chaudhury and Sherpas: Pemba Nuru , Pemba Chhoti, Jamling Bhote and Ang Sona Sherpa. All summited without question.  However, the mystery of Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya death has left several questions.

As you can see in the above picture, Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya did summit Mt Everest. Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya was using Poisk oxygen not any other system as has been falsely reported by others for reasons unknown. Jamling Bhote was the Sherpa with Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya.

Update October 2005: EverestNews.com has been in touch with Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya wife for several months now. This week she told EverestNews.com, " I got a chance to speak to the sherpa Jamling Bhote who was with chaithanya on the expedition. As he says, Chaithanya & he started their descent at around 11:8am. Before which they spent around 10 mins on the summit. On their way back he says that Chaithanya switched on to his last O2 cylinder just below the summit. But as they climbed down, Chaithu had a broken crampon which he replaced with a spare the sherpa had. He also mentioned to me that they had crossed the rocky band. But after that he lost contact with Chaithanya due to the blizzard & says at the same time he had a fall & does not remember anything after that. says he was in the tent when he gained consciousness the next day. The team members said that they found him unconscious near their tent. That means that he fell very near to the camp. Now  Brice says he has spotted a body at a ht of 8150mts Which lies very close to Mallory's body which he says could be Chaithanya since the clothing color matches. "

Earlier she reported to us that met the sherpa jamling on 20th July at Bangalore, Karnataka-India. According to what he says, "they started the climb at 10 pm 29th May. After around 3-4 hrs trek, Chaithanya's head lamp was unserviceable 7 they continued with only jamling's headlamp through out the night. They had no problem climbing & summited at 10.50 am. They both switched on to their last oxygen can after the summit .But while climbing down, Chaithanya broke one of his crampon & so jamling gave his crampon & took over Chaithanya's ruksac...

When Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya wife contacted Brice, here is what she told EverestNews.com: "Brice did not get back to me. But this is what he has informed the IAF;  .....On the 4th June my team went to the summit of Everest and during the decent my Sirdar Phurba Temba Sherpa saw a body wearing red and black clothing which is consistent with your teams clothing. This body is lying close to where Mallory’s body lies, at approximately 8,150m. This is in a direct fall line below where Phurba also saw the remaining crampon belonging to Mr Chaithanya, which was lying on the descent route....

Other climbers also told EverestNews.com that they saw the body around 8000-8150 meters. A ten time plus Everest summiter (Sherpa) told EverestNews.com that "The Indian was fall from between first step and second step... ."

Of course in 2005, a few others climbers lost or had broken crampons....

Some of Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya wife questions are:

1.) Why did the Sherpa come down with the radio?

2.) Why does it seem all his cameras, handycam, etc with bought down by the Sherpa?

3.) Why do climbers say the location of the body lines up with the crampon, but the Sherpa say he changed the crampon and that he  fell later? Was this the other crampon, or the one he replaced that climbers saw?

Sadly, we have another wife looking for details of what happened on a mountain where people die every year. If you have information that might help please e-mail us. thanks!

Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya wife requests any information that climbers could provide, She is trying to find answers...

Earlier interesting reports are below...

Update June 1, 2005: After the summits on 30th May in which three members of the IAF team summited Everest from the North [Wg Cdr RC Tripathi (0515h), Sgt NR Chaudhuri (0630h) and Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya (0945h)].  Several reliable sources reported to EverestNews.com that one of these climbers did not make it back.

A rescue operation was started, but there has been no signs of the climbers. We informed the team we would wait to report the news until the family was notified and the information was released. The news has now been released according to a report by the Ministry of Defense. Squadron Leader S S Chaithanya do not come back to high camp after summiting. RC Tripathi and NR Choudhary with their sherpas arrived at reached camp three at about 7:00 pm. The Sherpa with Squadron Leader Chaithanya reached the camp at around 8:15 pm and informed the team that he had lost contact with Chaithanya. Squadron Leader Chaithanya is still officially reported missing and has not been located.

Update: Today, 30th May, three members of the IAF team summited Everest from the North. They are Wg Cdr RC Tripathi (0515h), Sgt NR Chaudhuri (0630h) and Sqn Ldr SS Chaitanya (0945h). They are all safe and on their way back to ABC.

Update 5/25/2005: Dear EverestNews.com, As u would be aware Russel Brice had taken the responsibility of fixing ropes on the North side. Most teams were rather frustrated at the ropes not being in position as late as 18th. We accordingly asked for a meeting with him in which he flatly refused to send his Sherpas to fix rope for the 21/22 window saying  that he needed the Sherpas for sending gear and oxygen for his clients. He also said that anyone who wanted to climb should either wait tilll he finds time to fix ropes or do it themselves. A few teams viz Norwegian, Indian Army, Chinese and Indian Air Force then got together and decided to fix the ropes on 21st. For reasons unknown the Chinese team did not send their Sherpa to fix rope. The other 3 teams kept their promise and fixed rope till 2nd step. Russel somehow had a change of heart and sent 4 Sherpas to carry rope from North Col to Camp III.

That is the story. If we had not taken the initiative the ropes would not have been up. Unfortunately our 4 member team had to turn back from 8600m because of oxygen and crampon problems and because 2 members were frostbitten.

Amit Chowdhury Leader IAF Team

The IAF team has thirty men and is leaving for Everest on March 29th. The expedition will be led by veteran mountaineer Wg Cdr Amit Chowdhury. This is the first Indian Air Force Everest expedition.

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