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Polish mountaineer’s death confirmed

Updated July 15, 2013

ISLAMABAD, July 14: Tragedy struck on the 8,086-metre high Gasherbrum-I peak as the Alpine Club of Pakistan on Sunday confirmed the loss of a Polish mountaineer, Artur Hajzer.

Among several expeditions attempting the Gasherbrums I and II this year, Polish Artur Hajzer and Marcin Kaczkan were attempting to summit both peaks without oxygen. Their plan was to climb the two peaks via the normal route with minimum resources.

“The two climbers were considering the possibility of a summit-to-summit traverse of GI and GII,” said Member Executive Council ACP Karrar Haidri.

He explained that the mountaineers intended to climb G-I on the standard route and instead of descending back to the base camp, continue climbing the Gasherbrum 6,400 metres high and attempt the second summit (G-II) before descending from the opposite side.

Karrar Haidri said the climber was still missing.

He said that on Sunday, July 7, Artur Hajzer and Marcin Kaczkan had left Camp III 7,150 metres high to reach the Gasherbrum-I summit.

At 7,600 metres, strong winds forced the two climbers to turn back.

They returned to Camp III and contacted the base camp, indicating that they would descend to Camp II at 6,400 metres and that ‘everything was fine’.

However, the same day, the base camp received a message that Artur Hajzer had fallen. “We have not managed to contact Artur Hajzer since then,” said one of the text messages from the surviving climber.

Rescue operations in the region usually take three to four days before pronouncing a missing person dead.

According to Karrar Haidri, rescue operations were launched which was managed by the German Gasherbrum Expedition leader Thomas Laemmle.

On the previous Sunday night, he sent a team of high-altitude porters whose aim was to reach Camp II of G-I.

Yet strong winds and snow prevented the climbers from going any higher and the rescue team, which only managed to reach Camp I, was forced to return to the base camp.

The team left again on Tuesday from Camp-I set up at 6,000 metres when the weather improved. A group of Russian climbers reached Camp II and found Marcin Kaczkan alive in the tent.

The ACP on Sunday confirmed that Artur Hajzer had died on July 7 while descending the Japanese Couloir, one of the faces of Gasherbrum I, which is the 11th highest peak in the world and known as the ‘beautiful mountain’ in the local Balti language.

Karrar Haidri shared a message from the mountaineering community stating that Artur Hajzer belonged to the mountains where he died.

He had accomplished the Himalayan ascents in the trademark Polish style with little fuss in 1986-87.

ACP said Artur Hajzer had returned to Himalaya this decade to continue the tradition of Polish winter ascents and help raise a new generation in the spirit of Polish high altitude mountaineering, which took on the cutting edge with simplicity and courage.

Artur Hajzer was a veteran climber and had himself led three expeditions to the Karakoram and Broad Peak in 2008-09, the Broad Peak in 2010 and Gasherbrum-I in 2011 to mention a few.

He was the third polish climber this year to be claimed by the mountains of the Karakoram Range.

Earlier in March, 2013, 58-year-old Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski, 27, who became the first to summit the Broad Peak in the winter season, died during descent from the 8,047-metre high mountain peak.