Pakistani porter missing after avalanche on Broad Peak

Two climbers and one Sherpa injured in the avalanches. Helicopter rescue expected on Tuesday

Web Desk July 20, 2015

A Pakistani high altitude porter was reported missing while a Japanese and a Chinese climber along with a Nepali Sherpa, suffered injuries in avalanches on Broad Peak in the Karakoram range on Monday. Attempts for a helicopter evacuation of the injured failed due to adverse weather.

At around 11 am on Monday, as seven climbers were on the mountain, an avalanche ripped through the lower section below camp-1. It apparently crushed the Pakistani porter and injured other climbers.

Broad Peak is the 12th highest mountain in the world, standing tall at 8,051m. It is part of the Gasherbrum massif in Baltistan on the border of Pakistan and China, right across the glacier from K-2.

Nepali Sherpa Lakpa from the Seven Summits Trek team, along with some other climbers, immediately mounted a rescue effort, pulling one climber out of the snow. Another climber, who had suffered several fractures, was lowered down to a point where they could use their crampons to climb down and receive treatment.

“Lakpa soon received a radio call from one of the injured. Lakpa and many others from our camp and neighbouring camps, rushed to the scene to assist with rescue and recovery,” wrote climber Chris Jensen Burke on her blog from Broad Peak base camp.

“The climber that is missing, presumed dead, is a Pakistani high altitude porter who was assisting another team at our base camp.”

Helicopter rescue was sought for the more severely injured climbers, but it was not possible on Monday due to adverse weather.

“Attempts to bring in a military helicopter for evacuation purposes today failed. By the reports, the military indicated that the weather was not good enough for helicopters to fly in,” Burke said, adding that their liaison officer had contacted the military who said one helicopter tried flying to Broad Peak but had to return due to the weather. “We are hopeful that an evacuation can take place tomorrow morning.”

So precarious was the situation on the mountain that at least two more avalanches occurred as rescue was being effected, with the rescuers having to move out of the way.

The avalanches were brought on by snowfall high up on the mountain on Sunday night and warmer than usual temperatures on the mountain, said climber Nick Cienski, who is currently at K-2 base camp, across from Broad Peak.

This was backed up by Burke who said that heavy, wet snow had fallen on Sunday night. “As we left the dining tent for bed, a heavy wet snow fell, and it did not stop through the night – it was so loud at times, it sounded like rain.”

Several climbers have reported of warmer than usual temperatures on the mountain this year, with some of the Sherpas noting wet rock faces high up on the mountain, which usually sees frozen cliffs. There have also been a number of avalanches on both K-2 and Broad Peak, mostly after the earthquake in China earlier in July.

Last week, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) had issued an advisory warning of rising temperatures in Gilgit Baltistan, particularly in Bagrot Valley. It said that weather conditions
are likely to prevail for five days, enhancing the rate of melting of glaciers. "There is a strong likelihood of glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) event in the valley."


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