Gasherbrum VII: Mountain accident after first ascent

The Gasherbrum massif

The joy lasted only briefly, now there is great concern. At late noon local time in Pakistan, Cala Cimentis’s wife celebrated the Italian climber’s summit success on Facebook: “He made it, he scaled the still untouched G VII. In a few minutes the descent begins on skis.” The 6,955-meter-high Gasherbrum VII had not been summited before. While Cimenti wanted to descend on skis – as he did at the beginning of the month after his summit success on Nanga Parbat – his companion Francesco Cassardo apparently descended on foot.

Helicopter to take off on Sunday morning

Cimenti (l.) and Cassardo in Skardu

Two hours later, Cimentis’ wife announced that Cassardo had fallen during the descent. “Cala has managed to reach him and he is with him. They are waiting for help.” That should come by rescue helicopter. The Pakistani authorities quickly gave the go-ahead for the rescue flight, but it was already dark.  The helicopter is now due to take off on Sunday directly after sunrise. Italian climber Marco Confortola – who scaled Gasherbrum II on Thursday, his eleventh eight-thousander – offered his help with the rescue operation, it said. It is possible that he will be picked up at Gasherbrum Base Camp on Sunday morning.

According to his wife, Cimenti went down to Camp 1 to fetch the necessary equipment so that he could spend the night with Francesco at 6,300 meters. Keep your fingers crossed!

Update, 21 April, 11 am: Francesco survived the night. His condition is serious but stable. Cala wanted to transport him 100 meters lower, where the rescue helicopter can land better. Eight mountaineers were evacuated from K2 Base Camp today.

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