Team that made the first winter summit of the world’s second tallest peak returns home to a heroes’ welcome.
Three mountaineers who went missing in Pakistan earlier this month while attempting to scale the world’s second-highest mountain, K2, are now considered dead, according to Pakistani officials.
Thursday’s announcement brings closure to a dramatic tragedy on one of the most dangerous mountains to climb in the world.
Search efforts for the climbers – famous Pakistani mountaineer Ali Sadpara, Jon Snorri of Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile – who went missing on February 5 were called off last week amid bad weather.
“All the weather experts, climbers and experts from the Pakistan army have reached the conclusion that a human being cannot live for that long in such harsh weather. That’s why we are announcing that they are no more,” said Raja Nasir Ali Khan, a provincial minister for tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan, where K2 is located.
Khan said the search for the bodies would continue.
“My family have lost a kind father and the Pakistan nation has lost a great, brave, and experienced mountaineer,” Sajid Ali Sadpara – son of Ali – told reporters after the announcement was made.
میرے والد محترم علی سدپارہ سمیت دیگر کوہ پیما اب اس دُنیا میں نہیں رہیں.
اِنّا لِلّٰهِ وَاِنّا اِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْن
آپ سب دوستوں سے درخواست ہیں انکی مغفرت کے کیے دُعا کریں
— Sajid Ali Sadpara (@Saajid_Sadpara) February 18, 2021
Translation: My beloved father Ali Sadpara and other mountaineers are not in this world any more. I request all you friends to pray for their souls.
Clouds, strong winds and snow had made previous search and rescue operations too dangerous – for mountaineers on foot as well as helicopters.
“I believe they scaled it [K2] but had an accident while coming down,” said Sajid, adding that he had hoped to join the group but could not because his oxygen tanks malfunctioned.
Karrar Haidri of the Pakistan Alpine Club told The Associated Press the climbers’ deaths were a great loss.
“We are very sad over the tragic demise of all the three climbers,” he said, adding that authorities had used helicopters and porters to try to recover the bodies but that even those efforts had failed.
K2, referred to as the “killer mountain”, had never been scaled in winter until last month when a Nepalese team reached the peak.
In winter, winds on K2 can blow at more than 200 km/h (125 mph) and temperatures can drop to -60C (-76F).
In one of the deadliest mountaineering accidents ever, 11 climbers died in a single day trying to scale K2 in 2008.