Pakistan 2014: Death on K2, Rescue on Broad Peak

Death on K2: It continues to be a very busy week in Pakistan, where a number of teams are packing up, and preparing to head home following the unprecedented success on K2 this past weekend. As of now, it seems that 35 climbers reached the summit of the “Mountaineer’s Mountain” during a weather window that seems to only come along once every few years.

But there is sad news from the Karakoram today, as the mountain has also claimed the life of one climber, bringing a bit of a dark cloud to the celebration that is still taking place there.

Details on the death are just now starting to come in, but Italian climber Tamara Lunger updated her blog to report that Spanish climber Miguel Angel Perez Alnarez has perished in Camp 4 on K2.

She says that Miguel, who has 10 8000-meter peaks on his resume, left Base Camp on his own on Sunday, and reached the summit amidst good weather. But he was very slow on his descent, and was forced to bivouac above 8000 meters (26,246 feet) without a tent. Yesterday, the Spaniard was able to descend to Camp 4, but he died there last night.

This news has no doubt sent a shockwave through K2 Base Camp, where the teams were still enjoying their success the past few days. K2 has a reputation for being the “Savage Mountain,” in part because one out of every four climbers who reaches the summit, dies on the way back down. That has not been the case this year of course, but the loss of Miguel is a stark reminder of the dangers that climbers face on that mountain.

My condolences to the friends and family of the fallen climber.

Meanwhile, over on Broad Peak, there is news that the Polish team climbing there have saved the life of a Taiwanese climber who was stranded, and dying in Camp 4. The details on the rescue are a bit fuzzy at the moment, but it seems that he or she was left alone in C4, where the Poles discovered the unnamed climber who was asking for help.

The Polish team then called for assistance from other members of the team in Camp 3, and assisted in getting the Taiwanese climber down the mountain. Hopefully the stranded climber is receiving the medical attention they need, and are on the road to recovery. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this story in the days ahead as well.

Finally, while we’re still sifting through all of the successful summits on K2, and across the Karakoram, this past week, there was at least one record set. When our friend Alan Arnette reached the summit of K2 on Sunday morning, he became the oldest person to ever achieve that feat. Alan is 58 years old, and while he took up mountaineering later in life, he has certainly made the most of his time in the mountains. He is also an inspiration to all of us.

Kraig Becker