SKARDU, (MANEND NEWS): Pakistan Army helicopters have returned to Skardu unsuccessful after conducting a search operation to trace missing mountaineer Ali Sadpara and two other team members who are on an expedition to conquer K2 during the winter.
The helicopters reportedly flew to a height of 7,000 metres in their attempt to locate the missing mountaineers but were unable to find any clues to their whereabouts. They had to return due to worsening weather and light conditions.
It had been reported a day earlier that Sadparaand his team had successfully summited the 8,611-metre K2 — the world’s second highest mountain — late Friday, a month after their first attempt failed. However, their support teams have since then cautioned that the climbers’ status is still unclear and there has been no communication from their end.
Waqas Johar, Assistant Commissioner Shigar, Gilgit-Baltistan, confirmed that there has been no success in finding the missing mountaineers so far and that weather conditions are “not good” at K2.
He said that Ali’s son, Sajid Sadpara, who had been waiting at Camp 2 has now begun to descend.
In a subsequent update, he said that Sajid has reached Camp 1.
Ali Sadpara, John Snorri from Iceland and Juan Pablo from Chile had departed for their journey a day after Sadpara’s birthday in the wee hours of Wednesday, asking fans and admirers to “keep us in your prayers”.
They had started their attempt for the final summit in the early hours of Friday, hoping to accomplish the herculean feat by Friday afternoon.
However, it has now been several hours since anyone last heard from Sadpara and the team.
Pakistani actor and singer Fakhar-e-Alam has tweeted about the missing climbers, requesting his followers to pray for their recovery.
The army-led search operation was launched due to the delay in their return.
Bulgarian climber dies on K2 expedition
News of the mountaineers going missing follows reports of a Bulgarian mountaineer falling to his death during the same K2 expedition.
He was the second person to die on the world’s second-highest mountain in weeks.
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.
K2 is known as the “Savage Mountain” because of its punishing conditions: winds can blow at more than 200 kilometres per hour (125 miles per hour), and temperatures can 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.