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Climber Dies on K2 as Tensions Grow Over Mum Summit Seekers

Four climbers haven't been heard from since leaving for the summit of K2 as night falls on the mountain

Bulgarian climber and Himalayan veteran Atanas Skatov has died from a fall while descending from camp three. Skatov is reported to have likely fallen when transitioning from one rope to another, with early reports of a rope breaking being dismissed when it was noted that the fixed ropes high on K2 are new.

Skatov is the second climber to die on K2 this winter. On Jan. 16, Serge Mingote from Spain died in a fall low on the mountian. The experienced Himalayan climber had climbed seven 8,000-metre peaks without supplemantary oxygen: Everest from Tibet in 2001 and from Nepal in 2003, Broad Peak, K2 and Manaslu in 2018, and Lhotse, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum II and Dhaulagiri in 2019.

Tensions are high on K2 as a number of climbers gunning for the summit have not been heard from in hours. The sun has gone down and reports of equipment failure have tunred back at least one climber from high on the mountain.

The four climbers that have not been heard from in over eight hours, are Juan Pablo Mohr, John Snorri, Ali Sadpara and Sajid Sadpara. They left from 7,300 metres nearly 20 hours ago and were reported to be around 8,300 metres. They will be dealing with a lack of sleep and extreme cold. The weather near the summit is around -45ºC with calm winds.

One climber who was gunning for the summit yesterday, Colin O’Brady, opted to return from his summit push yesterday after noting something didn’t feel right, is back down near basecamp. Antonios Sykaris from Greece in in camp one with extreme frostbite and is too tired to continue down.

Pasang Norbu Sherpa was hoping to climb from basecamp to the summit in a 24-hour push, but his tracker hasn’t moved from camp three, which means he’s likely paused his summit attempt.

As of 9 a.m. EST, there are a lot of climbers unaccounted for on K2, as most of their trackers seem to have stopped working and communication from the mountain has slowed. Luckily, the weather will remain fair for at least the next 12 hours.

On Jan. 16, 10 Nepalese mountaineers reached the summit of K2 for the first winter ascent. Those climbers who will go down in history for reaching the summit, are Nirmal Purja, Gelje Sherpa, Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, Sona Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Pem Chhiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa and Dawa Tenjing Sherpa.