Search for missing Nepal Sherpa Chhewang Nima stopped

Chhewang Nima Sherpa on the summit of Mount Ama Dablam. Picture courtesy of Sherpa Shangri-la Treks and Expedition. Chhewang Nima, famous for climbing Mount Everest 19 times, is presumed dead

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Rescuers have called off the search for a leading Nepalese Sherpa who was caught in an avalanche near a Himalayan peak on Saturday.

Hopes had faded of finding Chhewang Nima alive. The 43-year-old is famous in mountaineering circles for climbing Mt Everest 19 times.

He was fixing ropes for a climbing group near the top of 7,129m (23,400ft) Mt Baruntse when the avalanche hit.

Bad weather hampered the helicopter rescue operation in eastern Nepal.

Jiban Ghimire, director of Sherpa Shangri-La Treks and Mr Nima's employer, told the BBC that the search "has been called off because there is no way to find his body".

He said Mr Nima's brother and other climbers had flown to Mt Baruntse on Monday morning to check if they could climb to where Mr Nima is believed to have been caught by the avalanche.

"But the conditions were still very bad and the helicopter had to return," Mr Ghimire said.

"We don't think the conditions will improve for at least a week. His family believe he is dead."

Mr Nima was fixing ropes at an elevation of 7,045 metres (23,114 feet), while guiding a private expedition up the peak.

He was knocked down the north-east slope by the avalanche, Mr Ghimire said.

The other climbers are said to have searched for Mr Nima, but were unable to find him.

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

He had been close to tying the record for the most successful climbs of Everest - 20, held by fellow Nepalese climber Appa Sherpa.

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