ISLAMABAD: An avalanche on Nanga Parbat on Thursday buried gear carried to a higher camp and deposited there by climbers.

One of the climbers, Tom Ballard, was quoted as telling the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP): “Tents, our down gear, sleeping bags, food, fuel and technical equipment were all lost.”

“All that hard work to carry it up here, for nothing,” he added.

The ACP said two climbers, Mr Ballard and Daniele Nardi, had proceeded up to camp three only to find it buried in the snow.

ACP Secretary Karrar Haidri said the climbers dug around in the deep snow for a while, but in vain.

“They did not have a place to sleep and were forced to descend. The two retreated to camp two for a rest, then continued down to base camp on Friday to rest and assess their next move,” he said.

According to the ACP, the climbers on the 8,126 metre peak have been busy digging more than they have been climbing, and have been slowed down by the fresh snow.

“What the climbers have found is just snow. Abundant snow.

“After a lot of work, the tent was excavated, a broken pole mended and the tent re-pitched. After an hour and several deep holes later, the two climbers still could not find the second tent,” ACP quoted the team as saying.

Nonetheless, the climbers recovered the second tent after digging through several meters of snow to find their gear intact.

Conditions have been getting harsh, Mr Haidri said. Temperatures inside the tent dipped to -22°C and a clear bright day means severe cold.

“With strong winds forming clouds high up, and a couple of avalanches rolling down on the slopes, basically the odds are stacking up against this expedition, we are wondering how much longer the climbers will continue,” the official said.

Nonetheless, spirits were high on the second highest peak in the world, K2, where two teams continue to push on towards its summit, ACP said.

The two expeditions on the 8, 611 metre mountain, which had teamed up earlier, are now ascending independently. Both teams are now preparing for their third push on K2.

However, the ACP said Polish climber Waldemar Kowalewski, was hurt by a chunk of ice a few days ago, and was joined on the helicopter flight out by Marek Klonowski, who was unable to shake a pulmonary infection he had been fighting since the beginning of the expedition.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2019