YANGON, Myanmar – Helicopters will begin an aerial search for two mountaineers who lost contact with their base camp after scaling what has long been considered Myanmar's tallest peak, officials said Wednesday.
Myo Thant, leader of the Mountaineering Association, said eight climbers headed up Hkakabo Razi last month, but due to the narrow route to the summit, only two continued on the final stretch.
The men reached the ice-capped peak on Aug. 31, becoming the first all-Myanmar team to do so, but reported before making their descent that their satellite phone battery was weak, he said. They were supposed to reconnect with their colleagues at base camp Monday, but did not show up.
The climb follows a debate over what is the country's tallest mountain.
When the nation's peaks were surveyed in 1925, while the area was part of the British Indian empire, Hkakabo Razi was measured at 5,881 meters (19,295 feet), which would make it the highest, not only in the country but in all of Southeast Asia.
Myo Thant said his climbers confirmed that height with a GPS device.
However, satellite and digital data, together with recent U.S., Russian and Chinese topographical maps, indicate the real title may belong to Gamlang Razi, also in Kachin state.
A new, high-resolution survey has been commissioned.
The last person who scaled Hkakabo Razi was Japanese climber Takashi Ozaki, who reached the peak in 1996.