The bodies of Tom Ballard, 30, and Italian climber Daniele Nardi, 42, were discovered. The two disappeared on Nanga Parbat in the Himalayas on Feb. 24. Ballard and Nardi were trying to climb a new route on Mummery Ridge when they disappeared.
Despite reports of the rescue being called off, Basque climber Alex Txikon spotted shapes on the mountains that led to more helicopter fly-bys. The Italian ambassador to Pakistan, Stefano Pontecorvo, said the search team had confirmed that silhouettes spotted on the mountain were the bodies of the two men and that the search was over.
He said on Twitter: “With great sadness I inform that the search for Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard is over as Alex Txikon and the search team have confirmed that the silhouettes spotted on Mummery at about 5,900 metres are those of Daniele and Tom. RIP.”
He said the bodies were in a place that was difficult to reach but that everything possible would be done to try to recover them.
Last winter, around this same time, there was an historical rescue of Elisabeth Revol on Nanga Parbat by Denis Urubko, Adam Bielecki, Jarek Botor and Piotr Tomala. It took place after Revol and her partner, Tomasz Mackiewicz, found themselves in dangerous conditions on the descent. Mackiewicz was suffering from a number of high altitude health issues and Revol had to leave to get help. As conditions worsened, the rescue team had to abandon their attempt to reach Mackiewicz and he died high on the slopes of Nanga Parbat.
Ballard is the son of Alison Hargreaves, the first woman to climb Everest alone in 1995, and Jim Ballard. Hargreaves died later that year on K2, the world’s second highest mountain, in the same region as Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest.
Ballard rose to fame in the climbing world after he climbed the six great north faces of the Alps (Matterhorn, Cima Grande di Lavaredo, Petit Dru, Piz Badile, Eiger, Grandes Jorasses) in winter and solo, the first climber to do that. His mom, Hargreaves, also soloed those six great north faces in a single season. She was six months pregnant with Ballard when she first climbed the north face of the Eiger. In 2016, Ballard made the first ascent of Line Above the Sky, the world’s first D15.
Ballard was six years old when his mother died on K2. “When I was young growing up at school I always said I would climb these mountains for her,” said Ballard. “But then I realized that was a little bit silly because she had already climbed them herself. I was only doing it for myself — every day I go out there is for me. Unconsciously, she is one of the reasons why I wanted to do it — but only one of the reasons.
“Since I was 10 all I wanted to do was to climb. Even before I was born I climbed the north face of the Eiger. So I think it’s not much a surprise what I do now.”
Ballard’s father, Jim, told reporters a few days before the search was called off that he still holds out hope that his son will return home, even though finding him will be “like finding a green beer mat on the pitch at Twickenham.” He said the search operation brought him back to 1995 when Hargreaves went missing. “This takes me back to those days.” But Ballard’s partner, Stefania Pederiva, who lives in the Italian Dolomites, told reporters last week, “It’s pointless. No hope any more. It is hopeless.”
Nardi, who had climbed Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, Shisha Pangma, Aconcagua and Everest, told a Russian website that early during the expedition, “I don’t want to lose my life on this mountain.”
And for Ballard, the climb had already seemed committing and full of the unknown. In a Jan. 19 Facebook photo from Ballard, a climber was standing in heavy snow high on the mountain with Ballard’s saying, “Well, what did you expect? It is winter on the ninth-highest peak in the world. No picnic.”