Pakistan 2013: Hope Fades On Broad Peak, Rescue Operations Underway On GI

800px Gasherbrum group

The very busy summit season has begun in Pakistan where a number of teams have been successful on their bids to climb the big peaks throughout the region. While those teams celebrate their good fortune and prepare to head home, others are mourning the loss of friends as another team seems to have run into trouble.

We’ll start on Broad Peak which has been the site of much drama over the past week. An Iranian team reached the summit on Tuesday, July 16 but ran into trouble on their descent. They spent several days stuck at 7800 meters (25,590 ft) but in radio contact with their friends, who were organizing a rescue operation that would deliver food and water to the three men. The hope was that they could then assist them in coming back down the mountain hopefully saving their lives in the process. On Saturday they lost radio contact with one another and the search parties had no luck in locating their missing compatriots. Helicopters were brought in to assist but bad weather kept them grounded. Now, as the days have dragged on, hope has started to fade for the stranded climbers and as the weather takes a turn for the worse, it appears that the search will have to be called off altogether

This is a sad ending to a story that had started so well. The three men, Aidin Bozorgi, Pouya Keivan and Mojtaba Jarahi, had completed a new route to the summit of BP, but struggled often on their climb. It seems they became exhausted when even their descent along the normal route proved more difficult than expected. They’ve now been without food and water, while stuck at altitude, for several days. With bad weather setting in, it seems very unlikely that they are still alive – something that their friends and family are now coming to grips with. My condolences to those that were close to these three men. Their names are added to a list of men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the mountains this year. It has certainly been a costly one.

Over on the Gasherbrums there have been a number of summits over the past few days, including Chris Jensen Burke topping out on GII yesterday. She reports that about a dozen climbers stood on top at roughly the same time. Meanwhile, Jonathan Kedrowski has also set out for the summit and hopes to complete his ascent by Friday or Saturday. He’ll be amongst another group of seven or eight climbers who should all be topping out around the same time, weather permitting.

On Gasherbrum I another rescue operation seems to be unfolding at the moment. The Spanish team climbing on that mountain seems to have run into some difficulty on the descent following a successful summit. Xevi Gomez, Alvaro Paredes and Abel Alonso all reached the top of GI a few days ago but are having problems making it back down now. Friends and teammates are on the move there today and hope to reach them soon, then help with getting them safely back down the mountain. Stay tuned for updates on this situation, which is still unfolding.

Finally, it is go time at last on K2. Several teams, including one with both Adrian Hayes and Al Hancock on it, have launched their summit bids today. A weather window is expected to open this coming weekend and everyone wants to be in position to take advantage of the improved conditions if and when they come. If all goes as expected, we could see the first summits of the season as early as Saturday or Sunday. But this is the world’s toughest mountain, so we’ll just have to wait to see if the climbers can actually find a way to stand on top.

More updates to come as needed. There is a lot of activity right now and the end of the season is almost in sight.

Kraig Becker