Home > News

Hope Fades for Survival of Missing Climbers on K2

Three climbers from Pakistan, Chile and Iceland haven't been heard from for over 60 hours after leaving for their K2 winter summit push

A search and rescue mission was launched on Feb. 6 for three missing climbers near the summit of K2. The search resumed on Feb. 7, 48 hours after the climbers were last heard from. A team of climbers in a Pakistan Army helicopter made two flights to examine the Abruzzi Route up to 7,800 metres, but they saw no sign of the climbers.

The three missing climbers are Muhammad Ali Sadpara from Pakistan, Juan Pablo Mohr from Chile and John Snorri from Iceland. Muhammad’s son, Sajid, was part of the summit team, but turned around due to equipment failure. He is now safely back in Skardu where he spoke to reporters.

Sajid said that he was out of oxygen when they reached the Bottleneck and that he wasn’t feeling well. He said that his father told him to use the supplementary oxygen that he was carrying. Sajid was trying to fix the mask regulator, but the oxygen started to leak, so he descended. “I last saw them going up the Bottleneck,” he said. “I left around 12 p.m., and when I reached camp three, it was 5 p.m. I contacted base camp and told them that I reached camp three and that my father and the team are going for the summit. The summit team had no walkie talkie.” He was advised to descend and made his way down to base camp the following day when a rescue was launched.

“I think that they summited,” he said, “and while they were descending, they had an accident, as the wind was very strong at that time.”

Pakistani climbers Imtiaz Hussain and Akbar Ali are currently on K2 as part of an on-foot search and rescue. The strong climbers have assisted in Himalayan rescue missions in the past. There is no word as to where they are. The sun has set and the climbers would be spending a third night at high elevation. A helicopter will head back up tomorrow if the weater allows.

Canadian Elia Saikaly is on K2 as a filmmaker documenting Snorri’s ascent. Saikaly traveled to K2 at the last minute for the expedition. Last November, he summited Ama Dablam as a member of Garrett Madison’s team. He is safely back in base camp. There were at least 23 other climbers who’ve descended back to base camp from the recent summit push, including Italian climber Tamara Lunger.

On Feb. 6, Saikalay reported: The last number of days on K2 have been incredibly difficult. Firstly, John Snorri and Ali Sadpara have not been seen or heard from since the morning of the 5th. They were last seen by Ali’s son Sajid at the bottleneck late morning when Sajid turned around due to an oxygen regulator problem. He is now with us safe at basecamp. PK, Fazel and I (minus Jalal) made a push from basecamp to camp 3 over 3 days after being here for 2.5 weeks. We suffered, but kept pushing upwards, loaded like mules again, gathering footage, trying to catch up with John, Ali and Sajid. We intersected with them at camp two. The plan was to follow/film them as far as we could if we were strong enough from camp 3. We eventually were below camp 3 when we learned there was a serious miscommunication about the extra oxygen we purchased, which unacclimatized was our lifeline, so we descended to Japanese camp 3 and spent the night listening to the brutal radio communications of climbers sandwiched into tents at high camp 3. We knew we were in harms way without ample oxygen so we packed it in. While descending, a Bulgarian climber, Atanas, flew off K2 right over our heads and plummeted to his death. I saw it all and yelled in horror. My heart goes out to his lady who accompanied him here to K2. Rest In Peace, Atanas. We are praying for a miracle over here.

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.

Two other experienced mountaineers died on K2 this winter. On Feb. 5, Bulgarian mountaineer Atanas Skatov fell to his death during a summit push. On Feb. 16, Sergi Mingote from Spain died in a fall while descending from camp one. More on K2 this winter here.

One of the most tragic expeditions on K2 was in 2008, when on Aug. 1, 11 climbers died in the Bottleneck after a series of seracs avalanches. The climbers were from France, Ireland, Korea, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan and Serbia.