Ali Sadpara holds the national flag during his K2 expedition. Twitter photo
Pakistani authorities suspended all winter ascents, effective immediately, after three climbers went missing while attempting to scale K2 amid harsh weather in the country's north, a mountaineering official said on Wednesday.
The development comes after Pakistan's climber Ali Sadpara, Jon Snorri of Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile lost contact with base camp on Saturday. Their support team has not received any communications from the 8,611-metre (28,250-foot) high K2, the world's second highest peak, sometimes referred to as "killer mountain.”
From Left: Jon Snorri during K2 expedition and with his family members.
A search and rescue operation could not resume for the straight second day on Wednesday because of bad weather, said Karrar Haidri, head of the Pakistan Alpine Club.
He said about two dozen climbers from various countries, who were trying to scale K2, were heading back to their base camps after the immediate suspension of winter expeditions.
British-American mountaineer Vanessa O'Brien gives a news conference in Islamabad. File / AP
Located in the Karakorum mountain range, K2 is one of the most dangerous climbs - one never accomplished in winter until last month, when a team of 10 Nepalese climbers made history by scaling it.
Bad weather has plagued the search. It was halted on Monday as heavy clouds enveloped most of K2. Since then, no helicopter could fly amid diminishing hope for the survival of missing climbers, Haidri said.
He said authorities were meeting on Wednesday to decide how to handle the situation amid continuing bad weather. At K2, winds can blow at more than 200kph (125 mph) and temperatures can drop to minus 60˚C.
A photo of K2 is displayed on a cell phone in Islamabad. AP
In one of the deadliest mountaineering accidents ever, 11 climbers died in a single day trying to scale K2 in 2008. Sadpara’s son Sajid Ali Sadpara, who had began the climb with his father but was forced to abandon the summit attempt after his equipment failed, has said only a miracle could bring the climbers back alive.
The announcement brings closure to a dramatic tragedy on one of the most dangerous mountains to climb in the world. K2 had never been scaled in winter until only last month, when a Nepalese team reached the peak. Sadpara's son, Sajid told reporters that he was grateful authorities had done their best to try to find the group.
“It’s already been more than 30 hours, we have received no news of John Snorri, Ali Sadpara, and Juan Pablo Mohr, since none of the GPS trackers seem to be working,” Chhang Dawa Sherpa, their expedition manager, said in a statement. An army helicopter has conducted a search flight for the missing climbers, Sherpa said.
A military statement elaborating the day search and rescue operation said despite "extremely challenging conditions," the army helicopters searched Abruzzi Spur and other routes but no trace of the missing climbers so far.
The GB cabinet held a special meeting chaired by Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan to pay tribute to Sadpara. The cabinet also approved establishment of Mohammad Ali Sadpara Institute of Adventure Sports Mountaineering and Rock Climbing in recognition of his services.
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