Leading Sherpa Chhewang Nima missing after avalanche

Chhewang Nima Sherpa on the slopes of Mount Everest earlier in 2010. Picture courtesy of Sherpa Shangri-la Treks and Expedition. Chhewang Nima Sherpa was close to tying the record for the most Everest summits

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A Nepalese Sherpa who is famous in mountaineering circles for climbing Mount Everest 19 times has gone missing on another Himalayan peak.

Chhewang Nima was struck by an avalanche near the summit of Mount Baruntse, his climbing agency said.

He was fixing ropes at an elevation of 7,045 metres (23,114 feet) while guiding a private expedition trying to reach the 7,129 metre peak.

A helicopter will join the search for him on Monday if high winds die down.

The other climbers searched for Mr Nima after the accident on Saturday but were unable to find him.

A helicopter has been sent to the team's base camp but was unable to take off on Sunday because of strong winds.

Jiban Ghimire, of the Sherpa Shangri-la Treks and Expedition - the firm which organised the expedition - said Mr Nima was on the north slope of the mountain fixing the ropes when he was knocked over and down the north-east slope by the avalanche.

No-one else was caught in the avalanche, said Mr Ghimire.

Mr Ghimire said it was possible that because of Mr Nima's skills and experience he may still be alive.

"He's a good climber, he knows how to survive," he told the BBC.

Mr Ghimire said the climber had worked for the expedition company for 10 years.

Mr Nima, 43, is a highly-experienced climber who has made many ascents in the Himalayas. He is one short of tying the record for the most summits of Everest: 20, held by fellow Nepalese climber Appa Sherpa.

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