ISLAMABAD: Denis Urubko and two members of his expedition aborted their ascent of the 12th highest mountain in the world.The Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) said the mountaineers retreated on Broad Peak after reaching 7,650 metres.

“No ropes and a lot of crevasses between camp II and camp III,” ACP Secretary Karrar Haidri quoted Denis Urubko as saying, adding that the climbers were also too tired to break trail, it was becoming too risky, and they had little time with strong winds drawing in.

Mr Haidri told Dawn on Sundaythat the trio’s fans, friends and family were following their progress closely.

“It was one of the most anticipated attempts this winter season,” he said.

However, the mountaineers have not said anything about the expedition being over yet. According to Mr Haidri, they are well acclimatised, suggesting that they may attempt again.

The ACP said that it was not just the crevasses that forced the climbers to abort. They had been braving strong wind and blowing snow that increased dramatically.

Around eight kilometres from K2, Broad Peak is 8,051 metres high and part of the Karakoram Range.

On March 5, 2013, a Polish expedition comprising Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Artur Maek made the first winter ascent of the mountain.

During their descent, Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski did not reach Camp IV at 7,400 metres and were pronounced missing. On March 7, the head of the expedition Krzysztof Wielicki, announced that there were no chances at all of finding 58-year-old Maciej Berbeka and 27-year-old Tomasz Kowalski alive.

On March 8, both climbers were declared dead and the expedition ended.

Another expedition is still pushing to reach the top of K2, the only peak that has never been summitted in the winter. Nanga Parbat was summitted for the first time in the winter of 2016.

Climbing becomes much harder and even simple routes become rock hard ice slopes in the winter, Mr Haidri said.

“In such difficult conditions, climbers have to stand on the front points of their crampons in severe cold, their ascent slows to a crawl, and fixing ropes takes much longer. In the case of the trio on Broad Peak, the mountaineers ran out of rope to fix,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2020