Winter Climbs 2019: Bodies of Missing Climbers Found on Nanga Parbat, One K2 Team Heads Home

The sad news that we’ve all been dreading was made official over the weekend when it was confirmed by multiple sources that the bodies of Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard were discovered on Nanga Parbat.

When last we checked in with the search efforts the team of Alex Txikon, Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Felix Criado, and Rahmat Ullah Baig had already left the mountain for a nearby village, but were hoping to make one last sweep by helicopter to investigate two “silhouettes” that were spotted by telescope.

Those efforts were hampered by shifting weather conditions and ongoing political tensions between India and Pakistan, but eventually they were able to examine the area in question where the remains of the missing climbers were identified at long last.

The bodies of Nardi and Ballard were spotted at 5900 meters (10,356 ft), well below where they had last checked in. It is difficult to speculate exactly what happened, but it appears that they were either swept off the Mummery Spur by an avalanche or suffered some kind of gear failure that sent them plummeting down the slope. They were no doubt roped together at the time of the fall, taking both men down together.

The discovery brings some sense of closure to the friends and family of the two men, although it doesn’t bring much solace to those closest to them at the moment. For now, their remains will stay on the mountain, although the families have not ruled out making a recovery effort in the future. With the current conditions on the mountain, such a recovery mission would have to wait until summer at the earliest.

Once again, our condolences go out to everyone who knew Daniele and Tom.

With the search and rescue operation over, Alex Txikon and his teammates have now returned to Base Camp on K2 where they are preparing to resume their efforts to summit that mountain. The group who have been searching on Nanga arrived back in BC earlier today and are now resting up before making a summit push. Txikon is of the mind that winter doesn’t end until March 20, so he is still hoping to pull off the first winter ascent of the mountain yet this year.

The other team on K2 is heading home however. The Russian/Kazakh/Kyrgyatanian led by Vassiliy Piivtsov have called it quits after reaching Camp 4 at the end of last week. They were hoping to make a dash to the summit but high winds put an end to that attempt on Friday. With visibility poor and little hopes of improvement, they descended back to BC and are now preparing for the journey home.

We’ll continue to follow the movement of Txikon and company over the next few days as they get ready to move up. The clock is ticking away steadily at this point and it is unclear whether or not they’ll get a good weather window. We should know more soon.