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Rescuers call off efforts to save Polish climber missing on 'killer mountain' Nanga Parbat

Updated January 28, 2018


Members of the Polish K2 expedition heading to take part in a rescue mission of French climber Elisabeth Revol and Polish climber Tomasz Mackiewicz in Nanga Parbat. —AFP
Members of the Polish K2 expedition heading to take part in a rescue mission of French climber Elisabeth Revol and Polish climber Tomasz Mackiewicz in Nanga Parbat. —AFP

Volunteers were able to rescue a French mountaineer from Nanga Parbat but called off efforts to retrieve a Polish climber ─ both of whom have been missing since Thursday ─ who has now been declared deceased, an official said Sunday.

Two Pakistan Army helicopters began an operation Saturday on the request of the Polish and French embassies to rescue the two European mountain climbers after they got stuck while trying to summit the 8,126-meter-tall Nanga Parbat, the ninth-highest peak in the world.

Karrar Haidri, a top official in the Pakistan Alpine Federation, said the four volunteer rescuers from a separate Polish expedition were airlifted to the Nanga Parbat base camp and dropped close to the two stranded climbers ─ Tomasz Mackiewicz of Poland and Elisabeth Revol of France.

Polish climber Tomasz Mackiewicz in Nanga Parbat. —AFP
Polish climber Tomasz Mackiewicz in Nanga Parbat. —AFP

He had said the volunteers had spotted the two mountaineers, and were climbing to 7,000 meters above sea level to try to reach them.

However, they were unable to reach Mackiewicz, who is suffering from snow blindness and altitude sickness, because of poor weather.

Haidri said the rescuers are in the process of transferring Revol, who has frostbite on her feet and cannot walk, to a nearby town. Earlier today, he had said the local weather was bad, with temperatures at -60 degrees Celsius at the height where the climbers are stuck.

The rescuers brought Revol down the mountain to a helicopter Sunday, and she will be taken to Skardu and then Islamabad for medical treatment, according to Ludovic Giambiasi, a friend who is posting regular updates on Facebook. He thanked Polish and French diplomats for their help.

"The rescue of Tomasz is unfortunately not possible because of the weather and altitude it would put the life of the rescuers in extreme danger," Giambiasi wrote. "It's a terrible and painful decision. We are in deep sadness. All our thoughts go out to Tomek's family and friends. We are crying."

The French consul in Islamabad is following the rescue operation closely and is in touch with Revol's family, who are currently in France, a French official said on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorised to be named publicly.

Revol's friends raised some 60,000 euros to help with the rescue operation through crowdfunding online, according to French media reports.

Later Saturday, Polish media, which have followed the developments closely, reported that Revol had been found alive, citing tweets by a friend and other sources. She had frostbite on her feet, could not walk and the operation to get her off the mountain was expected to be difficult.

A day earlier, Mackiewicz's sister was quoted in Polish media as saying it would be a miracle if he survives.