Renowned Pakistani mountaineer Muhammad Ali Sadpara — along with climbers from Iceland and Chile — is reported to be missing during his winter climb on K2 and contact with the 3-member expedition has not been established since yesterday.
Shigar district Assistant Commissioner Waqas Johar told The Express Tribune on Saturday that a rescue operation has now been launched to locate the missing climbers and high altitude porters are on the way to Camp-1 in this connection. “They will spend the night there and will start their search operation by tomorrow morning,” he added.
Sajid Sadpara, Ali’s son, is now descending from Camp-1, said Johar. “Unfortunately, no news about the missing climbers yet,” he added.
The Alpine Adventure Guides also confirmed the development on Twitter.
For Search & rescue mission the pilot has been instructed to take the flight up as maximum as possible, it’s very low temperature and 35+ KM wind above 6500m. At the basecamp, we have prepared oxygen bottles, high foods, masks, regulators for 2 Pakistani climbers (HAP). pic.twitter.com/GQNqG4ifUI— Alpine Adventure Guides (@Alpine_Pakistan) February 6, 2021
The tweet added that the rescue mission has been asked to take the helicopter as high as possible to maximise chances of finding the missing climbers.
However, Gilgit-Baltistan Home Secretary Muhammad Ali Randhawa later said that the high altitude porters had returned back to K2 Base Camp along with Sajjid Sadpara, Ali’s son. “They will discuss with other fellow climbers and then decide their next strategy of search operation,” he said in a tweet.
Sajid had to earlier abort his ascent due to a malfunctioning oxygen regulator and descended to Camp 3. On Friday evening, he went out to search for the other team members but did not find any trace of them.
I just got in contact with Sajid at C3. He went out to check if there is any trace of them. He hasn't saw any lights or any movement. He has food,sleeping bag and he is holding tight. We'll publish the news as soon as he informs us.#k2winterexpedition2021@john_snorri— Muhammad Ali Sadpara (@ali_sadpara) February 5, 2021
Sadpara is a Pakistani mountaineer and has proudly hoisted the country's flag on eight peaks. He was also part of the team which successfully achieved the first-ever winter summit on Nanga Parbat in 2016.
Earlier, a Bulgarian mountaineer fell to his death during another expedition, his team said Friday.
Seven Summit Treks — a trekking company leading the expedition — said Atanas Skatov, 42, fell as he was changing ropes during his descent to basecamp.
The Alpine Club of Pakistan also confirmed the incident, saying his body was later recovered and flown by a Pakistani military helicopter to the nearby city of Skardu.
Skatov is the second climber to die on K2's slopes this season after a Spanish mountaineer fell to his death last month.
A third climber — Russian-American Alex Goldfarb — also died on a nearby mountain during an acclimatising mission ahead of a bid to scale Broad Peak in January.
Winds on K2's peak can blow at more than 200 kilometres per hour (125 miles per hour) and temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit).
With Pakistan's borders open and with few other places to go, this winter an unprecedented four teams totalling around 60 climbers have converged on the mountain, more than all previous expeditions put together.
Unlike Mount Everest, which has been topped by thousands of climbers young and old, K2 is much less travelled.
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