Hope fades for missing Quebec climber in Nepal

Police in Nepal say there is very little chance of finding a Quebec cardiologist missing after a weekend avalanche on the world's eighth-highest mountain.

Dr. Dominique Ouimet was on Mount Manaslu expedition

Police in Nepal say there is very little chance of finding a Quebec cardiologist missing after a weekend avalanche on the world's eighth-highest mountain.

Searchers resumed the search Tuesday for Dr. Dominique Ouimet, 48, and two French mountaineers, who were among about two dozen climbers camped on 8,156-metre-high Mount Manaslu in northern Nepal when the avalanche hit their tents at 4 a.m. local time Sunday.

The bodies of eight climbers, including four French, and one person each from Germany, Italy and Spain, have been recovered. A guide from Nepal also died. Reports Monday indicated rescuers were trying to recover a ninth body.

Many of the 10 people who survived the avalanche were injured and taken to hospital.

Police fear the missing climbers were swept away and slid into a crevasse.

Local police Chief Basanta Bahadur Kunwar said it is very unlikely the missing climbers will be found.

"If we don't find them now, we may be able to find them when the snow melts," Kunwar said, according to a Radio-Canada report.

Another Canadian survives avalanche

A total of 231 people, including climbers and guides, were on the mountain on Sunday, but not all were near the camp where the avalanche struck. Ouimet was at Camp 3, located at approximately 6,800 metres, and was preparing to reach the summit.

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"A huge amount of snow crashed off the mountain and swept right through Camp 3," freelance reporter Tom Bell told CBC News from Kathmandu. "Some of the survivors were carried for hundreds of metres inside their tents."

Ouimet, an experienced climber who had already summited a number of peaks around the world, was trying to beat his altitude record of 6,960 metres, according to his sister, Isabel. He was also using the expedition to raise money for St-Jérôme Regional Hospital north of Montreal where he worked.

In an interview with Radio-Canada last week, Ouimet said the climb was going "well enough," and that he was glad to combine his love of climbing with fundraising.

"And so I said why not unite my personal passion with something useful, something a little more altruistic that goes beyond just one person?" he said. "And I have to say, it's made it a greater experience."

Another Canadian who was on the mountain at the time of the avalanche, ski mountaineer Greg Hill from Revelstoke, B.C., survived the slide and helped with the rescue.

Hill was in Nepal to film a German team trying to set a speed record for ascending and descending the mountain. He is renowned for ascending and skiing down two million vertical feet (609,600 metres) over the course of 2010.  

Hill and his group were at Camp 2 lower down Manaslu when the slide struck.

Video posted Tuesday on YouTube under the account name "DYNAFITspeedup" shows people skiing up to the scene of the slide in darkness, and searching amid devastated tents and piles of snow. Dynafit is the sponsor of the German team.

Several media outlets are also reporting that American skiing legend Glen Plake was caught in his tent in the avalanche. Plake is said to have come away with missing teeth and bruises.

Tensions between China and Tibet are being cited as a contributing factor. China is reported to have rejected climbing permits to ascent Tibetan Himalayn peaks, meaning expeditions switched to Nepali mountains.

One trekking agency in Nepal said 30 teams were registered to climb Mount Manaslu this year, an increase of 50 per cent over last year.

With files from The Associated Press