ISLAMABAD, March 11: Three mountaineers, including a high-altitude Pakistani porter, went missing on Friday roughly 450 metres below the summit of Gasherbrum-I, which is also known as the Hidden Peak. Bad weather has delayed air and ground rescue missions, said the Alpine Club Pakistan here on Sunday.

The mountaineers - team leader Austrian Gerfried Goschl, Swiss Cedric Hahlen - and their porter Nisar Hussain were attempting to climb GI in the winter, a challenge few dared to execute.

The concern for the missing mountaineers pushed celebrations of two Polish climbers Adam Bielecki and Janusz Golab into the back seat. The ascent by the two Poles was the first ever in the winter and that too without oxygen supply on March 9.

According to the Alpine Club, Askari Aviation that had planned to drop three local high-altitude porters - Hassan Sadpra, Ali Raza and M. Nazir - to the base camp had to abort their rescue mission because of bad weather.

Gerfried Goschl (who had already summated GI in the summer of 2011), Cedric Larcher and Nisar Hussein launched the final push towards the summit of the 11th highest mountain in the world at the same time as the two Polish climbers from different angles. The three climbers were attempting their ascent from a new route on the south of the GI. And, according to the Alpine Club, the last news on the missing climbers came from two Polish mountaineers who became the first to ascend the 8,080m mountain in winters without oxygen.

“When the Polish team of Adam Bielecki and Janusz Golab returned to the base camp on Saturday (March 10) after their success, they said they had spotted three climbers progressing to their goal some 400m down,” said an official with the Alpine Club, adding that there was no news from the climbers after that.

The Alpine Club said weather around G1 worsened late Friday evening and through Sunday. Severe cold and poor visibility in height together with the total absence of news about the three of us have been filled with concern at the base camp.

Winter attempts on the world’s highest peaks have been tougher than imagined. Last month one of the world’s toughest and notorious 14-member Russian expeditions to ascend K2 first time ever ended in the tragic death of a team member. Vitaly Gorelik, one of Russia’s powerful climbers, died of heart failure at the base camp. The Russian climbers had reached 7,200 metres on a never climbed route of the 8,611m peak, and Gorelik had suffered bad frostbite on his hands. Back at the base camp, the team called for a helicopter evacuation but severe winds prevented it.—Jamal Shahid



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