On a narrow, snow-clad path, climbers roped together are seen approaching an unidentified peak, step by careful step, in the glaring sun.
The short video clip, released by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police on Monday, is thought to show the moment just before an avalanche hit the group of eight climbers who were attempting to reach India’s second-highest peak, Nanda Devi, at the end of May.
The border police have not released the next few seconds of the video, in which, they said, there is a loud noise and the screen goes suddenly blank.
The footage was recorded by a GoPro helmet camera found buried in the snow at 19,000 feet, officials said on Twitter, by a team of border police mountaineers who also recovered the bodies of seven of the climbers. The climbers, four Britons, two Americans, an Australian and an Indian, vanished at the end of May.
“The GoPro was proved to be like the black box of an aircraft giving an insight into the last few moments of the climbers,” A.P.S. Nambadia, deputy inspector general of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, said at a news briefing, according to the BBC. “It was mesmerizing for us to see the footage,” he added.
By the time the Nanda Devi group went missing, it had already been a deadly spring in the Himalayas, with a series of deaths associated with a traffic jam near the peak of Mount Everest. A picture spread on social media showing a line of up to 300 people crowding a dangerously narrow path, after Nepal issued a record number of permits and the weather cleared for an extended period.
According to border officials, the group of climbers shown in the video released on Monday may have triggered an avalanche by the weight of their bodies. The clip could help investigators determine what exactly went wrong.
Rescuers reached the bodies of the seven buried in the snow on Nanda Devi, which is northeast of Everest, on June 23 in an operation called “Daredevils.” The border authorities called it a “never before seen operation,” one of the most challenging that mountaineers in the area had undertaken.
One person was still missing, the authorities said.
The rescuers struggled with wind and difficult terrain at over 20,000 feet to reach the site where the bodies were buried.
Among the belongings retrieved at the site were documents, climbing gear and a small penguin doll.