Hardly any hope left for the three missing climbers on K2

View from the helicopter on the summit zone of K2
View from the helicopter on the summit zone of K2

Giving up is not an option – not yet. For the third day in a row, Pakistan Army rescue helicopters searched the mountain flanks of the 8,611-meter-high K2 for the three climbers missing since Friday: Muhammad Ali Sadpara from Pakistan, John Snorri Sigurjonsson from Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr from Chile. The result as on the previous days: no trace of the trio.

Elia Saikaly, a photographer with Ali Sadpara’s expedition, reported from base camp that two Pakistani climbers – Imtiaz Hussain, a cousin of Muhammad, and Akbar Ali, a nephew of the missing Pakistani – wanted to ascend today to search for the three climbers. “We will climb as high as we can within our limits,” Imtiaz is quoted as saying. “There is hope, but we know the reality of the mountain, especially in winter.”

Summit in clouds

Muhammad Ali Sadpara and John Snorri Sigurjonsson
Muhammad Ali Sadpara (l.) and John Snorri Sigurjonsson

Realistically, however, hopes of finding the three climbers alive are minimal. They were last seen Friday at midday at the so-called “Bottleneck”, a key point on the route at around 8,200 meters. According to Sajid Ali Sadpara, who set out with them to attempt the summit but then turned back because of a faulty oxygen regulator, the three climbers had no working radio or satellite phone with them. Clouds have been hanging in the summit zone for days, and a strong wind is also blowing. Snowfall is expected for Tuesday, and the weather is to calm down for a short time only on Wednesday.

Tamara Lunger: “A nightmare”

Juan Pablo Mohr
Juan Pablo Mohr

South Tyrolean Tamara Lunger had actually wanted to set off for the summit with Juan Pablo Mohr without bottled oxygen, but had turned back in Camp 3 at 7,300 meters. “Miss you JP! Today is your birthday and our plan was to celebrate, but instead I’m here speechless, with tears in my eyes and a lot of questions. Knowing that the chances of seeing you again are close to zero,” the 34-year-old wrote on Instagram. “This expedition for me was the most brutal I have experienced. An adventure that started as a dream and ended in a nightmare that will chase me for a long time!”

Long shadow

Two climbers fell to their deaths (the Spaniard Sergi Mingote and the Bulgarian Atanas Skatov), three missing climbers (Muhammad Ali Sadpara, John Snorri Sigurjonsson and Juan Pablo Mohr) who probably did not survive their summit attempt – a long shadow settles over the winter season on K2. Even the successful first winter ascent of the second highest mountain on earth by ten Nepalese on 16 January does not change this.