What do Pakistanis think of Nepal Nepalese

Mountain drama at K2 in Pakistan: three climbers missing

"For me, this expedition was the most brutal thing I have ever experienced," writes the 34-year-old South Tyrolean professional mountaineer Tamara Lunger on Instagram. "An adventure that started like a dream and ended in a nightmare that will haunt me for a long time!" Two climbers fell to their deaths, three more have been missing for a week and a half. The chances of finding her still alive are almost zero.

Baited at a low price

Lunger's dream was to climb the 8,611-meter-high K2 in Pakistan in winter without bottled oxygen. Around 60 other climbers had also traveled to Pakistan. There had never been so many on an eight-thousander in the winter season. On the one hand, this was due to the fact that the K2 was the last remaining among the 14 eight-thousanders, which despite a few attempts had never been climbed in the cold season before.

On the other hand, the commercial Nepalese expedition operator Seven Summit Treks had lured some mountaineers with little or no eight-thousand-meter experience to Pakistan - with a "dumping price" of around $ 35,000, half as much as usual in the summer season. In the past, almost only top mountaineers were found on eight-thousanders in winter, no paying customers from commercial tour operators. Especially not on K2, which is one of the most difficult and dangerous mountains in the world.

Triumph and tragedy

When ten Nepalis, including Nirmal Purja, managed the prestigious first winter ascent of K2 on January 16, the other mountaineers also hoped for a summit success on the second highest mountain on earth. But the nightmare began on January 16: the Spaniard Sergi Mingote fell to his death while descending from a high camp. The 49-year-old was a star of the scene, within just 444 days he had climbed half of the 14 eight-thousanders without a breathing mask.

The next fatal crash followed last Friday. This time it got Atanas Skatov - a Bulgarian who had already stood on the peaks of ten eight-thousanders. The 42-year-old was also on the decline. A total of around 20 mountaineers set out to attempt a summit. After a period of bad weather, last Friday should be one of the few winter days on which an ascent to the highest point of K2 is even possible: with good visibility and without the usual gusts of wind that can sometimes reach hurricane strength.

Reception for the first winter climbers of K2 in Nepal, including Nirmal Purja (center)

Obviously, too few tents were deposited in camp 3 at 7,300 meters, from where the mountaineers wanted to start their summit advance. According to reports, there was also a lack of bottled oxygen. The summit aspirants crowded into the few tents, there was no question of relaxation. Instead of going upstairs early Friday morning, most of them got down again, including Tamara Lunger.

They did not return

Only four climbers made their way to the summit: the Pakistani Muhammad Ali Sadpara, his son Sajid, John Snorri Sigurjonsson, a father of six from Iceland - and Juan Pablo Mohr. Tamara Lunger actually wanted to go up with the Chilean, who had already climbed five eight-thousanders without a breathing mask.

Sajid Ali Sadpara, 22, eventually turned back because he was not feeling well and his oxygen device was not working properly. In Camp 3 he wanted to wait for his father and the other two climbers. He last saw the trio at an altitude of 8,200 meters. According to Sajid, the three climbers did not have a working radio or satellite phone with them. The batteries had probably given up the ghost at temperatures of minus 40 degrees and colder.

Muhammad Ali Sadpara was one of the first winter climbers of Nanga Parbat in 2016

Sajid Ali Sadpara waited in vain for the return of his companions for 20 hours before being persuaded to descend by Chhang Dawa Sherpa, the expedition leader of Seven Summit Treks. In the past week and a half, rescue helicopters of the Pakistani army flew the mountain flanks of K2 several times. Satellite and infrared technology were also used. But afterwards it was always said: "No trace of the missing". Bad visibility and strong high winds made the search difficult at times.

The main reason why it continued at all is probably due to the fact that Muhammad Ali Sadpara is one of the missing. With eight eight-thousanders climbed, the 45-year-old is Pakistan's most successful high-altitude climber. In 2016 he was part of the international trio who managed the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat. The Pakistani government recently announced that it would be providing Ali Sadpara with financial support so that he could climb the remaining six eight-thousanders. "I am sure that he reached the top," said his son Sajid, "and that an accident happened to him on the way back." He may never know what exactly happened to his father.