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Nine days on, still no clue about missing climbers

Updated September 17, 2015

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The climbers who went missing on Sarwali peak in Kashmir.
The climbers who went missing on Sarwali peak in Kashmir.

ISLAMABAD: Nine days after a search operation was launched, rescue parties have not yet been able to find three climbers who went missing on the Sarwali Mountain in Kashmir.

Professional rock climbers Imran Junaidi, Usman Khalid and Khurram Shehzad were attempting to climb the 6,326 metre high peak.

The group left Islamabad on August 22, to attempt to summit the peak, according to sponsors of the expedition. On August 26 the three-member expedition headed up from the base camp.

“From August 26 to the night of August 31, the climbers were in contact with the base camp. From the advance camp, the climbers reported going behind the mountain and out of sight, and would lose contact. They had also informed that they would return to the base camp on September 4,” said Ehsan Khattak from the Ibex Club, which sponsored the group by providing safety equipment.

According to Khattak, the base camp reported on September 4 that the climbers had not returned. A search operation was launched on September 7.

“There is nothing conclusive. There has been no evidence so far that the climbers met an accident,” Khattak said, explaining that the communication system in the area is poor.

The climbers were communicating initially through walkie talkies.

The satellite phone communication in the area wasn’t good either, he said.

Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) press secretary Karrar Haidri said that the Sarwali peak is a challenging mountain that has so far only seen failed attempts and remains unconquered.

“The conditions on the mountain are tough. There has been fresh snow for the last two days, and the crevasses are now buried under it, making the search for the three climbers difficult,” Haidri said.

He explained that the ACP is supporting the Ibex Club in the search operation.

Haidri said that some of the best climbers and high altitude porters, including Hassan Satpara and Saddiq Satpara, who are trained in rescue techniques, were involved in the search operation.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2015

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