Two Climbers Go Missing on Nanga Parbat

1024px Nanga Parbat The Killer Mountain

Troubling news from Pakistan today, where the summer climbing season is still ramping up. ExWeb is reporting that Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan have gone missing on Nagna Parbat and a search and rescue operation is now underway. The two men were climbing along the very difficult Mazeno Ridge prior to their disappearance.

Last week, on June 19, the Argentine and  Spanish climbers set off to make a summit bid on Nanga Parbat, ascending to 5600 meters (18,373 ft) on their first day. But the weather made a sudden shift, bringing heavy snows along with it. This forced them to stay tent-bound for several days, not emerging until June 23, at which time they moved upwards to 6000 meters (19,685 ft). The following day they were once again on the move, with their GPS tracking device showing them climbing as high as 6270 meters (20,570 ft), but shortly there after the tracker stopped at 6112 meters (20,052 ft). It held that position until the device presumably powered itself off later in the evening on June 24. Neither Alberto or Mariano have been seen since.

Earlier today a helicopter was scrambled to fly over their last known location to see if the two men could be spotted. That search proved fruitless however and so far there have been no signs of the climbers. It is possible that they have continued along their route and may have dropped the tracker at some point during the climb. They had expected the Mazeno Ridge to take roughly a week to complete, and had scheduled two days for bad weather as well. That would mean that if they are still climbing they are probably getting low on supplies, as the bad storm that hit on their second day out of Base Camp kept them in place for one day longer than anticipated. Hopefully that is the case, but until they are spotted or make contact, we’ll just have to wait to see how things unfold.

Today’s helicopter search was eventually called off due to poor weather conditions, but flights are expected to resume tomorrow. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the men turn up safe and sound, but have just been out of communications for several days. More to follow as we the story develops.

Kraig Becker