A Polish mountaineer has died during an attempt to climb Gasherbrum I in Pakistan’s northern mountains.
Artur Hajzer, 51, died on July 7 after he fell while descending the Japanese Couloir --- a deep, mountainside gulley --- on the Gasherbrum I. According to Explorersweb.com, an international online forum for mountaineers, Hajzer’s family has confirmed his death in a Facebook post.
Hajzer and his colleague Marcin Kaczkan were on an expedition to climb both Gasherbrum I and II, according to Raheel Adnan, Explorersweb.com’s Pakistan correspondent. The Polish climbers were ascending without oxygen and porter support, Adnan wrote in a eulogy to Hajzer on his blog, Altitude.
According to a statement sent by the rescue team, Hajzer and Kaczkan left Camp III at 7,150 metres to reach Gasherbrum I, which is 8,068 metres high.
“Upon reaching 7,600 metres, they turned back due to strong winds and broke off the summit,” read the statement.
The climbers then radioed the expedition’s cook at base camp saying that they would descend to Camp II at 6,400 metres.
By July 9, reports had emerged that there was an accident on Gasherbrum I and that rescue teams were trying to reach some mountaineers.
Initially, it was believed that Hajzer was safe and Kaczkan had an accident.
Thomas Laemmle, leader of German Gasherbrum Expedition AMICAL alpin, who managed the rescue, had sent a team of high-altitude porters to reach Camp II on the night between July 7 and July 8. But due to strong winds and snow, the team had to turn back to base camp.
As the weather improved on the night between July 8 and July 9, a group of Russian climbers left from Camp I for Camp II, where Kaczkan was found safe.
Apparently, Kaczkan had fallen in the couloirs as well but survived and managed to crawl to Camp II, according to information available on Explorersweb.com
Adnan said Hajzer had started climbing at the age of 12. During his lifetime, he climbed seven 8,000 metre peaks, including the Himalayan peak Annapurna I in 1987 with Jerzy Kukuczka. After some of his friends perished in mountaineering accidents, he quit climbing in 1990 at the age of 28 before returning in 2005.
The AMICAL alpin team is also embarking on a summit push to Gasherbrum this season. Spanish duo Patxi Goñi and Oscar Cadiach are currently on Baltoro Glacier, marching towards Gasherbrum I Base Camp, while four Czech climbers will also be arriving in Pakistan to attempt Gasherbrum I & II, according to Explorersweb.com
Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2013.