Indian air force pilots searching for, including two Americans, spotted five bodies Monday morning. The climbers disappeared while trying to scale a 21,000-foot mountain near India's second tallest peak. It has not been scaled before.
Heavy snow and winds forced searchers to postpone the rescue operation until Tuesday. Local officials fear the team was buried by an avalanche. With three people still missing, the family of one of the American climbers says it is not losing hope they will be found alive.
The group included Americans Ronald Beimel and Dr. Anthony Sudekum. Avid climbers who were part of a group forging a new route near the Nanda Devi summit. Their British mountain guide Martin Moran was known for pushing the limits. Nigel Vardy has climbed with him for decades.
"He didn't want to go where everybody else went. And he wanted to still go and search for new things, new routes and new places and that's what set him above so many other people," Vardy said.
The team left their base camp on May 13. Their last radio transmission was eight days ago when they said they were heading toward the summit. They were supposed to return to base camp last Friday, but never made it. Helicopters on a scouting expedition saw signs of a large avalanche.
"But what they're looking for is signs of life or, you know, a color standing out because it's all white or rocks," Vardy said. "There's always hope and I am hoping and praying for their safe return."
The search comes amid one of the Eleven people have died this year attempting to summit Mount Everest. The family of Anthony Sudekum told CBS News they believe he could have survived an avalanche, and said their dad is a highly experienced climber. They describe him as "a fantastic, passionate, capable individual who was doing what he loved."
Even if the missing climbers are spotted by helicopters, it could take rescuers three to four days to reach their location by foot. It's dangerous for the rescuers as well. Indian officials say in the region near Nanda Devi, the death rate is almost five times higher than that on Mount Everest.