Two mountaineers engulfed by an avalanche 11,000 feet up a mountain peak, which swept them into a crevasse and buried them under the snow at the bottom, have been declared dead by rescue workers.
The two vanished four days ago, and rescuers also revealed they had not even started looking for them because of the dangerous conditions.
The pair – firefighter Iker Bilbao, 29, and 31-year-old doctor Amaia Agirre – have been missing on Mount Fitz Roy in Patagonia since 19th January.
Rescue teams, who say they are certainly not alive any longer, confirmed they had not been able to start searching for the two Spanish climbers because of poor weather conditions.
The Rescue Commission of the El Chalten Andean Centre confirmed they had terminated rescue plans in a statement that detailed that Amaia and Iker are “buried in a crevasse for 48 hours and we believe that the search for their bodies exposes our climbers to very high risks.”
A third member of the expedition, Josu Linaza, survived the avalanche and raised the alarm with the emergency services.
The Spanish Federation of Mountain Sports and Climbing (FEDME) has said that “there is no hope of finding them alive.”
The trio had been making their descent from the peak on the mountain range on the border between Chile and Argentina when they were hit by the avalanche.
High temperatures in the area are understood to increase the likelihood that there could be further avalanches that could put rescue teams at risk, according to local media.
Agirre was reportedly considered one of the great promises of Basque mountaineering and Bilbao, a firefighter, was an expert mountaineer who had undertaken expeditions in Norway and California.
In a Facebook posting the two famous climbing brothers, Eneko and Iker Pou wrote that Mount Fitz Roy “is considered one of the most difficult in the world due to its technical complexity and the adverse weather conditions that normally dominate the area”.
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