Search under way for three climbers missing on K2 in Pakistan

Men lost contact with base camp on Friday as helicopters tried to locate them at 7,000m

A Pakistani army helicopter flying over the base camp of Mt K2 in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. Photograph: Seven Summit Treks/AFP via Getty

A Pakistani army helicopter flying over the base camp of Mt K2 in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. Photograph: Seven Summit Treks/AFP via Getty

 

An aerial search is continuing for three experienced climbers who lost contact with base camp during their ascent of the world’s second highest mountain, K2, officials said.

Karrar Haideri, from the Alpine Club of Pakistan, said army helicopters resumed the search which began a day earlier for Pakistani mountaineer Ali Sadpara and his two companions, John Snorri, from Iceland, and Juan Pablo Mohr, from Chile.

The men lost contact with base camp late on Friday and were reported missing on Saturday after their support team stopped receiving reports from them during their ascent of the 8,611m mountain in northern Pakistan.

“The base camp received no signals from Sadpara and his foreign companions after 8,000m ... A search is on and let’s pray for their safe return home,” Mr Haideri told the Associated Press.

On Saturday, helicopters flew to a height of 7,000m to try to locate the missing mountaineers with no success.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying Iceland’s foreign minister, Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, spoke to his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, by telephone.

Mr Qureshi assured him that Pakistan will spare no effort in the search for the missing trio.

Mr Sadpara and his team left their base camp on February 3rd, a month after their first attempt to scale the mountain failed because of weather conditions.

Mr Haideri said Mr Sadpara’s son, Sajid, had returned to the base camp safely after his oxygen regulator malfunctioned at 8,000m.

Mr Haideri said Mr Sadpara is an experienced mountaineer who has climbed the world’s eight highest peaks, including the highest, Mount Everest, and was attempting to climb K2 in winter.

K2, located in the Karakorum mountain range, is one of the most dangerous climbs.

Although Mount Everest is 237m taller than K2, the latter is much further north on the border with China and subject to worse weather conditions, according to mountaineering experts.

They say a winter climb is particularly dangerous because of the unpredictable and rapid change in weather conditions.

Winter winds on K2 can blow at more than 200km/h and temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees.

A team of 10 Nepalese climbers made history on January 16th by scaling K2 for the first time in winter. – AP