Second day ends with no headway made in finding missing K2 climbers

Sajid Sadpara says chances of missing climbers’ survival 'next to none', search should continue to recover bodies

Our Correspondent February 07, 2021


The second-day of Pakistan Army’s rescue operation ended with no sign of missing climbers including renowned Pakistani mountaineer Muhammad Ali Sadpara, who had gone missing while attempting a winter summit of K2 on Friday night.

The operation was launched yesterday after contact with the three-member expedition could not be established on Friday.

“Ali Sadpara from Pakistan, John Snorri from Iceland and Juan Pablo from Chile are still missing on the K2 mountain expedition,” officials in Skardu said.

The rescue and search team of Pakistan Army using helicopters started the mission on Saturday in extremely challenging weather and flew as high as 7,000 meters but unfortunately have not spotted anyone thus far, they said.

Explainer: Who is Muhammad Ali Sadpara?

Skardu Deputy Commissioner Karim Dad Ghughtai received Sajid Sadpara, Ali’s on, who had returned from K2’s Bottleneck.

Sajid had to abort his ascent on Friday 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.


‘Chances of survival next to none’

Sajid Ali Sadpara — son of Muhammad Ali Sadpara — said that the chances of the three climbers returning alive after three days were "next to none" under such harsh conditions.

Talking to the media after the end of second-day rescue mission in Skardu, Sajid suggested that the three climbers may have had an accident while descending from the K2 "Bottleneck", considered the most dangerous route of the entire expedition.

According to AdventureStats, 13 out of the last 14 fatalities on K2 have occurred at or near the Bottleneck.


"There is no hope to live [under such harsh conditions] for three straight days," Sajid said. “When I returned from Bottleneck at 8,200 metres, they were climbing up the Bottleneck at 11AM [on Friday]. I’m sure they made the K2 summit and on their way back they may have had an accident, that’s why they are missing,” he added.


He, however, added that the search and rescue mission should continue to recover the bodies.


Explaining his decision to return from the expedition, Sajid said that he realised that it will be difficult for him to continue the expedition without oxygen after reaching 8,200 metres, adding that when he tried to use the available oxygen, it emerged that their regulators had leaked.

He said that at that point in the expedition, he was mentally disturbed and his father and John Snorri asked him to return.

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.

"Praying for a miracle," the Alpine Adventure Guides said on its official Twitter handle earlier this morning.


Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari yesterday in a tweet had said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa are both concerned and personally following all developments regarding the missing mountaineers.

"Prayers needed from everyone for their safe return," he also said.


“Weather conditions aren’t favourable so it’s not an easy mission,” he said and added “We have [the] support of Pakistan Army and will be doing everything possible to get them home safely. Keep praying Pakistan!," he said in another tweet.


Earlier, a Bulgarian mountaineer fell to his death during another expedition on K2, 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.

Read More: Renowned Pakistani mountaineer Sadpara missing during K2 climb, rescue launched

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 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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