Winter Climb Update: Search Called Off on GI

On Monday of this week I posted a story about three climbers who had gone missing while attempting a new route on Gasherbrum I. At the time, a number of mountaineers were gathering in Base Camp to begin searching the mountain for their missing friends, but bad weather was preventing the use of helicopters to aid in the search. Now, just a few days later, that search has been called off altogether and all hope is lost for the missing trio.

Last Thursday, Gerfried Goschl, Cedric Hahlen and Nisar Hussein all set off for the summit of GI in good weather. They were hoping to not only complete the new route but also the first winter ascent of the mountain and they even called home to say that they were only 450 meters from to top and that they felt confident that they would make it. The worst was behind them, or so they thought. What happened next will likely remain a mystery. The support team never heard from them again, although they held out hope that the battery could have simply died on their sat-phone.

The following day the talented Polish team that had also been working the mountain accomplished their goal of claiming the first winter summit of Gasherbrum I. When they returned, Adam Bielecki, Janusz Golab and their two Pakistani guides, Ali Sadpara and Shaheen Baig, claimed to have spotted Gerfried, Cedric, and Nisar from the summit. They said the three men were still climbing after they appeared to have bivouacked high on GI the night before. Presumably the tree men met an untimely fate after that.

Over the past couple of days, climbers have gone as high as Camp 2 on the normal GI route and have seen no sign of their companions. Had they been successful on the summit, the team was expected to descend along that path. Eventually the weather did clear, allowing the helicopters to join the search at last, but they too have turned up no trace of the missing men. So it was with heavy hearts today that the search teams announced that they were calling off the operation. They have accepted that Gerfried and company have succumbed to the mountain.

My condolences to the friends and families of these three men.

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