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Search Called Off for Missing K2 Climbers

Despite extensive efforts to locate the three missing climbers, no trace of them has been found

Photo by: Seven Summits Trek / AFP

After three days of searching the upper slopes of K2, the world’s second highest mountain, three missing climbers are no where to be seen. The missing climbers are Jonn Snorri, 47, of Iceland, Muhammad Ali Sadpara, 45, of Pakistan and Juan Pablo Mohr, 33, of Chile.

A Pakistan Army helicopter took a number of rescue flights up the Abruzzi Route to above 7,000 metres where the climbers had left camp three on Friday morning. Due to bad weather, the search has been called off until things improve, which could be a number of days.

Sadpara’s son, Sajid, 20, turned around below the bottleneck due to equipment issues. 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 attempted to climb K2 on a search and rescue mission, however conditions forced them to abort.

“I think if they search for the bodies it makes sense to continue the operation, but their chances of surviving, if you are at 8,000 [metres] in winter for two or three days, a person’s chances of surviving are next to none,” said Sajid.

Families and friends of the missing said on Feb. 10 that they’re still hoping the three climbers will be saved. However, high-altitude climbers familiar with K2 have already shared their condolences and memories of Snorri, Mohr and Sadpara.

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.

Winter winds on K2 can blow at more than 200km/h and temperatures can drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius.




Lead photo: Seven Summits Trek / AFP