Bad weather and bureaucracy hinder search for missing climbers

Clouds around Nanga Parbat

A lost day. Low clouds around Nanga Parbat today prevented the helicopters from taking off again to search for the two climbers missing since Sunday, 42-year-old Italian Daniele Nardi and 30-year-old Brit Tom Ballard. In addition there were bureaucratic problems. According to Daniele’s home team, the private agency Askari, which handles the Pakistan Army’s rescue flights, demanded an advance payment for a helicopter to pick up Spanish climber Alex Txikon and three of his team members from K2 Base Camp. Alex and Co. had offered to fly to Nanga Parbat to support the search for Nardi and Ballard. Nardi’s family wanted to advance the necessary money. Valuable time was lost through the back and forth, the weather worsened and the flight had to be postponed to tomorrow’s Saturday.

Drones to be used

Txikon is very familiar with Nanga Parbat. After all, the 37-year-old, together with Italian Simone Moro and Pakistani Muhammad Ali Sadpara, succeeded the first winter ascent of this eight-thousander in 2016. For the search Txikon wants to use the two drones he took with him for his K2 winter expedition. The reason: the acute avalanche danger on the “Mummery Rib”, from where the two missing had last reported from an altitude of about 6,300 meters. On Thursday, after their first reconnaissance flights, the pilots of the two rescue helicopters had spoken of clear traces of avalanches on the rock spur.

Today Muhammad Ali Sadpara and two other Pakistani mountaineers climbed from Nanga Parbat Base Camp to a spot near Camp 1, but then returned.

The team of the K2 winter expedition from Kazakhstan, Russia and Kyrgyzstan, who had offered to participate with four climbers in the search for Nardi and Ballard, decided after consultation with the coordinators of the rescue operation in Italy to stay at the second highest mountain on earth. They announced a “final summit attempt” in the coming days.