Sleeping bag, tents located through satellite imagery did not belong to Sadpara, others: search mission

Published February 15, 2021
This photo shows Ali Sadpara and Alex Txikon climb Nanga Parbat in 2019 in search of two missing mountaineers. — Dawn/File
This photo shows Ali Sadpara and Alex Txikon climb Nanga Parbat in 2019 in search of two missing mountaineers. — Dawn/File

The search mission for missing mountaineers Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Juan Pablo Mohr or John Snorri Sigurjonsson disclosed on Sunday that the leads — taken after scrutinising satellite images, using SAR technology and checking testimonials and timings — turned out to be a sleeping bag, torn tents or sleeping pads, none of which belong to these climbers.

The three men were last seen nine days ago on Feb 5 near the Bottleneck area of K2. Bad weather in the area over the past week thwarted attempts for an on-ground and aerial search for the mountaineers.

The statement, issued on late Sunday night by British-American climber Vanessa O’Brien, who serves as Pakistan’s Goodwill Ambassador and had been coordinating — via a virtual base camp — the search and rescue efforts for the missing climbers, added that a press conference will be held as soon as Monday, Feb 15, “especially as it relates to Ali Sadpara.” The press release added that the K2 virtual base camp had also been winded down.

“Today is Valentine's Day in many parts of the world, so remember to be kind to one other and let those who are important to you know how much they are appreciated. These three strong and courageous mountaineers have 13 children, John Snorri SigurjOnsson (6), Ali Sadpara (4), and Juan Pablo Mohr (3), and I know they all felt loved by their families. Please give these families time, space and compassion,” the press statement added.

“It has been nine long days. If climbing the world's second tallest mountain in winter is hard, finding those missing is even more of a challenge. We have scrutinised satellite images, used SAR technology, scanned hundreds of pictures, plotted more points, re-read summit plans, and checked testimonials and timings. We engaged specialists who offered their expertise, and with devoted support from Pakistani, Icelandic and Chilean authorities, an unprecedented search in the history of mountaineering has been ongoing,” the press release said.

The statement thanked the Pakistan army for sending an F-16 for photographic survey of the area as well as all the “generous and supportive individuals who joined us from within our networks.”

“A special thank you to Imtiaz [Sadpara] and Akbar [Sadpara], and all those engaged in the search,” the press release added.

Meanwhile, sharing an update on Monday, the Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) said the government and other stakeholders are still putting their best efforts to find the missing climbers. "A meeting of apex committee will be held on Feb 17 in Gilgit. Please avoid any premature statements," the ACP statement read.

A day earlier, ACP secretary Karrar Haideri told Dawn.com that the weather conditions at K2 base camp was extremely cold and windy. "The conditions are difficult but the search mission will continue using a team of high-altitude porters (HAPs) who are acclimatised,” he added.

Earlier on Feb 11, the ISPR said that a special forward looking infrared (FLIR) mission by a C-130 aircraft along with four high-altitude porters (HAPs) from Sadpara village will be used in the operation. The sensors in FLIR cameras detect infrared radiation and convert it into an image.

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