No clue to missing Italian, British climbers on Nanga Parbat

Updated March 02, 2019

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Mountaineers went missing last Sunday, search operation hindered due to restricted airspace. — Dawn
Mountaineers went missing last Sunday, search operation hindered due to restricted airspace. — Dawn

ISLAMABAD: A week on, the circumstances of how two Italian and British climbers went missing on Nanga Parbat are still not clear.

With the air space closed on Friday, a ground team consisting of high altitude climbers Mohammad Ali Satpar, Dilawar Hussain and Imtiyaz Hussain – all from the Satpara Village – have not had much luck either.

“The ground rescue team has started its climb but have not yet reached the spot where Italian climber Daniel Nardi and British mountaineer Tom Ballard went missing,” said Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) secretary Karrar Haidri.

According to ACP, army helicopters performed two sorties on the Diamir side of the ninth highest mountain in the world, over the spot where the missing climbers had pitched their tents.

Mountaineers went missing last Sunday, search operation hindered due to restricted airspace

“The helicopters were able to spot a tent at camp three on their second pass, invaded by snow, possibly by an avalanche. Both climbers last reported from around 6,300 metres, which is above camp three but there has been no news of them since Sunday,” Mr Haidri told Dawn.

He said the search for the missing climbers is still on due to pressure from the embassies of their home countries and their families.

Ali Mohammad from Alpine Adventure Guides, the tour operator company managing the expedition on the mountain, said extraordinary permission was needed for rescue operations due to the on-going tension between Pakistan and India and the restricted airspace throughout the region.

“Meanwhile, the Kazakh-Russian-Kyrgyz team on K2 confirmed yesterday that they are willing to help with the rescue, and four climbers are ready to be transferred to Nanga Parbat, if needed and if the air space is opened,” Ali Mohammad told Dawn.

Known as the Killer Mountain, Nanga Parbat is one of the world’s most deadly 8,000 metre-plus peaks. Last winter, Polish climber Tomasz Mackiewicz died during a similar attempt on the mountain.

His partner, Elisabeth Revol, survived thanks to climbers who abandoned their own K2 goal to rescue her, Ali Mohammad said.

ACP said that the weather conditions were likely to deteriorate in the coming few days.

If the weather permits, helicopters are expected to fly to K2 Base Camp and pick up four rescuers from the Kazakh-Russian-Kyrgyz team, led by Vassily Pivtsov.

The plan is to land them as close to the flattened tent as possible, Ali Mohammad said.

Back at their base, Pakistani pilots released video footage of their search on the Diamer face of Nanga Parbat.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2019