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The near vertical southern face of the mountain is thousands of metres deep and is located in the Chinese territory..—AP Photo

ISLAMABAD: A rescue mission for three missing mountaineers was called off on Thursday after two Pakistan Army choppers found no trace of them over the plateau between 7000 metres and 7400 metres, climbed by them.

After clearing of weather in the upper Baltoro glacier area of District Skardu, Army Aviation flew helicopter sortie to base camp on Thursday at about noon.

The helicopters flew high and closer to Gasherbrum I attaining an altitude of 7000 metres to survey any trace of the missing mountaineers Austrian Gerfried Goschl, Swiss Cedric Hahlen and Pakistani mountaineer Nisar Hussain Sadpara.

According to Karrar Haidri, a spokesman of Alpine Club of Pakistan, although it was cloudy in the area, visibility was good upto about 3 km.

The pilots accompanied by Pakistani mountaineer Hassan Asad Sadpara conducted aerial survey of both North and South sides of the mountain, especially the route followed by the summit team led by Gerfried Goschl.

“No trace whatsoever of the missing mountaineers could be found on the mountain. After flying along all possible flanks, and failing to spot any sign, the pilots decided to finish their search mission,” he added.

Later the helicopters landed at the Gasherbrums, located at a height of 5,200 metres and evacuated, three frostbitten Polish climbers to Skardu.

According to experienced mountaineers, it is presumed that the three climbers were probably blown off the sharp ridge near the summit by strong winds.

The near vertical southern face of the mountain is thousands of metres deep and is located in the Chinese territory.

After discussing the situation with Wolfgang Goschl, brother Gerfried Goschl, who reached Skardu on Thursday, Artur Hajzer of the Polish expedition has decided to abandon any further search mission for the lost mountaineers and also decided to close down the base camp.

President of Alpine Club of Pakistan Lt Col (r) Manzoor Hussain in a condolence message expressed his deepest shock over the tragic loss of the three mountaineers.

He said Pakistan's mountaineering community was shattered over this irreparable loss, especially that of Nisar Hussain Sadpara.

Manzoor has also condoled with the bereaved families of the lost climbers. Nisar Hussain was one of three Pakistani professional mountaineers who had climbed all five high rising mountains of Pakistan, which are above 8,000 metres.

Artur Hajzer, leader of the Polish expedition in a message said: “It is difficult to accept that such great friends and climbers have passed... We share our pain with all friends and giving our condolences to the families.”