A SEARCH team flying over K2 on Monday.—Dawn
A SEARCH team flying over K2 on Monday.—Dawn

GILGIT: Harsh weather thwarted rescuers’ attempts to locate missing climber Muhammad Ali Sadpara and his two colleagues from Iceland and Chile, on Monday, making prospects of finding them alive highly unlikely.

The three mountaineers were on a mission to ascent K2 peak in winter when they went missing on Saturday.

Two helicopters flew over the Karakoram, beginning with first light and continuing as long as the elements permitted, but found no trace of Sadpara, John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr.

Chhang Dawa Sherpa sent the following update to authorities monitoring the rescue efforts: “Today we were able to make search flights all over 7000m (metres) by 2 Army helicopters with the help of the Army Aviation 5 squadron. Pilots Lakpa Dendi and I went through the areas that we were aware of, to locate missing climbers Ali, John Snorri, and Juan Pablo Mohr in K2.

With each passing hour, prospects for the survival of three mountaineers fade

“We had less visibility and the upper mountain is covered in clouds. For the last three days, pilots made a great job out of their limits, but we can’t find any clues there. The team is waiting for another permissible weather and search possibility.”

Elia Saikaly, a Canadian filmmaker who is at the K2 base camp for the last two weeks to make a documentary about the feats of Muhammad Ali Sadpara and his son Sajid, took part in the aerial search operation to locate the climbers.

In a social media post Saikaly had this to say: “Imtiaz and Akbar, Ali Sadpara’s cousin and nephew, arrived at K2 base camp a little more than 24 hours ago. Both are incredibly talented Pakistani climbers who have summited K2. They assisted in bringing Sajid Sadpara down from the base of K2.

“It was an emotional arrival just after dark as Sajid, who turned back at the bottleneck due to an oxygen failure, returned alive after a monumental descent to base camp without his father, Muhammad Ali Sadpara.”

Imtiaz, Ali Sadpara’s cousin, said in his message: “Ali is a brother to us. A hero for Pakistan. We will climb as high as we can within our limits. There is hope, but we know the reality of the mountain, especially in winter.”

An official told Dawn that no decision had been taken as yet to call off the rescue mission.

“It depends on weather conditions at K2. If the weather remains stable tomorrow, the search operation will continue,” he said.

“A decision to call off the operation and declaring the climbers dead will be a testing moment. The families of the three climbers will be consulted before making a decision.”

According to the Alpine Club of Pakistan, visibility over the mountain was poor on Sunday as a thick cloud cover had formed all over.

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2021

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