Pakistan 2013: Search Officially Ends On Broad Peak, Continues On Gasherbrum I

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It has been another very difficult week in the mountains of Pakistan where one search operation came to a tragic end, another is on going and a third has saved a life. All the while that these dramas have been unfolding, other teams have been making summit bids, some successful and some not.

Starting on Broad Peak, the search for the three missing Iranian climbers has been officially canceled. Bad weather has moved onto the mountain making it impossible for anyone to go up to 7800 meters (25,590 ft), which is where the men were last believed to have been camped. After more than a week at that altitude – without food and water no less – the climbers’ friends and family have decided that it was time to let them go. They are presumed dead at this point.

The three men who have given their lives while opening a new route on BP are: Aidin Bozorgi, Pouya Keivan and Mojtaba Jarahi. My sincere condolences to their loved ones in their time of need.

Over on Gasherbrum I the search for missing climbers Xevi Gomez, Alvaro Paredes and Abel Alonso is still on going at this time. Bad weather has grounded the helicopter and hampered efforts there thus far, but the SAR teams haven’t given up hope just yet. The three men topped out on GI last Sunday and were expected to descend to C2 the following day, but no word has been heard from them since. While the outlook is not good, some of the Spanish climbers friends are still holding out hope.

There was some good news from GI yesterday however, as Alfredo Garcia was located on the mountain and assisted down from Camp 3 by Mariano Galvan. Garcia turned back from the summit this past weekend as well but struggled on the descent. He has now gone down to Camp 1 and should be resting there for a time before proceed to Base Camp.

Meanwhile, summit pushes are now underway on both Gasherbrum I and II. Amongst those looking to top out is Jon Kedrowski, whose team should be in position to summit GII later today or tomorrow. Also on the move is Chris Jensen Burke, who fresh off a successful climb on that peak will now maker her way to the summit of GI. It would seem, weather permitting, there is the potential for several summits on these peaks in the next few days.

Finally, the summit push on K2 that was expected to be taking place as I write this has been called off. Poor conditions are to blame for stalling out the attempt which was to coincide with a weather window opening tomorrow. But when the first climbers reached Camp 3 on the mountain they discovered heavy snow higher on the slopes. As much as seven feet (2.1 meters) of snow to be exact. That fresh powder is believed to be unstable and avalanches have been observed higher on the slopes. For now, the teams will retreat, let things settle and regroup again next week.

There is no need to panic just yet on K2. It would have been an early summit had they topped out this weekend as expected. It is not uncommon for climbers to complete their K2 expeditions in the first week or so of August. Hopefully patience and persistence will pay off this year as well.

Kraig Becker