Rescuers on Sunday temporarily called off a search operation for three missing mountaineers from Iran as hopes of finding them are slowly evaporating.
The climbers were part of an 11-member expedition that scaled the Broad Peak, also known as K3, on July 16.
While the rest of the members returned safely to the base camp, Aidin Bozorgi, Pouya Keivan and Mojtaba Jarah – all in their 20s – have been stranded 7,400 metres above sea level and unable to descend via the standard route. Thus they had to bivouac two nights above Camp 3.
“Yes, for now the search has been called off. We have used all available resources to locate them but without success,” said Naik Nam of Adventure Tours Pakistan, the company that organised the expedition.
“Even experienced mountain guides who took part in the operation are also losing hope as the hours go by,” he told The Express Tribune.
Thomas Laemmle, an expert mountain guide, took part in the search operation. He flew by helicopter from the base camp in a bid to locate the missing climbers but returned empty-handed.
Helicopters can seldom fly above 6,500 metres, around 900 metres less than the height at which the three mountaineers have been stranded.
According to tour operators, the three climbers were without food, water and shelter since July 18 as snags hit their descent mission.
Gilgit-Baltistan Home Secretary Ataur Rahman said Bozorgi, Keivan and Jarah were still “missing” and the search has not been officially abandoned.
“They are officially missing. That is what we can say for now,” Rahman said, adding that tour operators should decide if the search operation should continue or not.
The first attempt to conquer Broad Peak through the Southwest Face was made in 2009 by another group of Iranian mountaineers. The expedition was aborted, however, after some team members fell ill.
Last month, Pakistan suspended expeditions to its second-highest peak of Nanga Parbat after gunmen shot dead 10 foreign trekkers and their Pakistani guide at its base camp.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2013.