K2 is considered one of the most difficult climbs. For every four climbers attempting to summit K2, one climber dies. In comparison one in every 20 attempting to climb Mount Everest dies. As of June 2018, only 367 people have completed the ascent of K2 and 86 had died trying. As of 1995 113 people reached the summit of K2 and 48 died. In 1995 seven people were killed in brutal storm that raged for nine days. Thirty kilometers away a rock climber froze to death in a hanging tent. In August 2008, eleven climbers died over two days (See Below), In a 1953 attempt, Art Gilkey was killed, either in an avalanche or in a deliberate attempt to avoid burdening his companions.

Mark Jenkins wrote in National Geographic: “By comparison, almost 5,000 people have now summited Everest (more than 8,000 summits if you include climbers who’ve done it more than once), with 288 deaths — one death for every 25 summits. Therefore, K2 is statistically 10 times more dangerous than Everest. [Source: Mark Jenkins, National Geographic, February 25, 2018]

K2 is known as a more treacherous mountain to scale. Many have died on the way down: 27 percent of thos who have perished did so making their way back down — a rate three times higher than on Everest. As of the late 1970s when only a handful had reached the summit: about one out of every twenty climbers that has tried to reach the summit of K2 died from illness, accident or exposure. Many have died at the Bottleneck, located at a height of more than 8,200 meters (26,000 feet). Climbers call it the Death Zone.

In August 2008, 11 climbers were killed in one of the worst disasters in mountain-climbing history. 1986 is known as the “Black Summer”. That year 13 out of 27 to try the ascent died. Polish climber Wanda Rutkiewicz became the first woman to reach the top, but Liliane Barrard — who became the second minutes later — and her husband, Maurice, did not complete the descent.

Seven people died on K-2 in 1995, the worst year since 1986. On August 13, 1995, a storm caused six people to fall or disappear. It was the mountain's deadliest day at that time. One of the 1995 victims was noted British climber Alison Hargreaves, who said three months before, "I don't think about death. I climb because I love mountains." Her husband and two children traveled t the foot of K2 to honor her. Hargreaves was the first woman to climb Mt. Everest alone and without oxygen. She died in an avalanche. The Scotland native once said "it is better to have lived one day as a tiger than a thousand as a sheep."

Some of the Dead on K2

Date Name Nationality Cause of death -
2014, 30 July Miguel Ángel Pérez Spain Probably altitude sickness
2012, 6 February Vitaliy Gorelik Russia Frostbite, Cardiac Insufficiency

2010, 6 August Fredrik Ericsson Sweden Fall

2010, 17 July Petar Georgiev Unzhiev Bulgaria Altitude sickness

2009, 23 June Michele Fait Italy Fall with skis [Source: Wikipedia]

2008, 2 August Dong-jin Hwang South Korea Fourth serac fall

2008, 2 August Kyeong-hyo Park South Korea Fourth serac fall

2008, 2 August Hyo-gyung Kim South Korea Fourth serac fall

2008, 2 August Mehrban Karim Pakistan Second or third serac fall

2008, 2 August Hugues d'Aubarede France Fall during descent

2008, 2 August Ger McDonnell Ireland Second or third serac fall

2008, 1 August Pasang Bhote Nepal Fourth serac fall

2008, 1 August Jumic Bhote Nepal Fourth serac fall

2008, 1 August Rolf Bae Norway First serac fall

2008, 1 August Jahan Baig Pakistan Fall

2008, 1 August Dren Mandic Serbia Fall

1995, 15 August Jeff Lakes Canada Exhaustion

1995, 13 August Bruce Grant New Zealand Killed in a storm

1995, 13 August Rob Slater USA Killed in a storm

1995, 13 August Alison Hargreaves United Kingdom Killed in a storm

1995, 13 August Javier Escartin Spain Killed in a storm

1995, 13 August Javier Olivar Spain Killed in a storm

1995, 13 August Lorenzo Ortiz Spain Killed in a storm

1995, 6 July Jordi Anglès Spain Fall

1986, 10 August Dobroslawa Miodowicz-Wolf Poland Exhaustion

1986, 10 August Alfred Imitzer Austria Altitude sickness

1986, 10 August Hannes Wieser Austria Altitude sickness

1986, 10 August Alan Rouse United Kingdom Altitude sickness

1986, 7 August Julie Tullis United Kingdom Altitude sickness

1986, 4 August Mohammad Ali Pakistan Stonefall [14]
1986, 3 August Wojciech Wróz Poland Fall

1986, 16 July Renato Casarotto Italy Fall into crevasse

1986, 10 July Tadeusz Piotrowski Poland Fall

1986, 24 June Maurice Barrard France Lost

1986, 24 June Liliane Barrard France Lost

1986, 21 June John Smolich USA Avalanche

1986, 21 June Alan Pennington USA Avalanche

1985, 7 July Daniel Lacroix France Unknown (disappeared)

1982, 15 August Yukihiro Yanagisawa Japan Fall
1982, 30 July Halina Krüger-Syrokomska Poland Stroke

1979, 19 August Laskhar Khan Pakistan Stroke

1979, 9 June Ali, Son of Kazim Pakistan Fall into crevasse

1978, 12 June Nick Estcourt United Kingdom Avalanche

1954, 21 June Mario Puchoz Italy Pneumonia

1953, 10 August Art Gilkey USA Avalanche

1939, 31 July Pasang Kikuli Nepal Disappearance

1939, 31 July Pasang Kitar Nepal Disappearance

1939, 31 July Pintso Nepal Disappearance

1939, 30 July Dudley Wolfe USA Altitude sickness and severe dehydration

Eleven Die Over Two Days on K2 in 2008

On August 1, 2008, eleven climbers died on K2. Three others were seriously injured. Five deaths occurred during an ascent and six occurred during a descent the following day. It was the worst single accident in the history of K2 mountaineering. Some of the details still are not clear and several different plausible explanation have been given for different climbers' timing and actions. Some of these actions were reported later by eyewitnesses. Others were relayed real time or via radio by climbers who died, in some cases minutes later.

The primary killer was a serac (an ice avalanche) occurring at an area known as "The Bottleneck", which destroyed many of the climbers' rope lines. Two climbers died on the way up to the top prior to the avalanche. Among the dead were Koreans, Nepalese, Pakistani, French, Serbian, Irish and Norwegian. Among the first to die were three Koreans on the the Flying Jump K2 Expedition and their Pakistani guide. In a message sent back to home, one them expressed his awe at “the mountain of the mountains” and “the mountain that invites death.”

Six of the climbers were struck by an avalanche while descending from the summit of the mountain. Others died in separate incidents. Shortly after the tragedy, Andrew Buncombe wrote in The Independent: “ The fatalities came after 22 climbers from eight expeditions reached the summit on Saturday and then began the perilous journey back down the mountain. "They were returning from the summit when an avalanche at the Bottleneck hit them," Ghulam Mohammad, a tour official, told Reuters. [Source: Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, August 3, 2008]

“While precise details remain unclear, it seems that a serac — a pinnacle or pillar of ice — gave way. This killed some of the group and destroyed a number of fixed climbing ropes on the steep gully known as the Bottleneck, leaving other climbers stranded.. Fredrik Straeng, a Swedish climber, described the incident to the Swedish news agency TT, saying he believed more than nine climbers died: "I have carried down both living and dead people from the mountain. I panicked when a [climber] fell straight on to my back ... I was terrified that we would all be pulled off the cliff and screamed to him to use his ice axe, but he lost his grip and plummeted off a 300-meter cliff."

“Officials said a team of climbers had begun ascending the mountain to take supplies to those still trying to make their way down. Helicopters were being readied to bring down injured climbers and spotter planes are standing by....There was confusion about the nationality of those climbers still missing. One report said five members of a Dutch team were still missing, while there was also no news about an Irish climber Gerard McDonnell, a French climber Hugues d'Aubarede and a third climber identified only as "Karim".

“Mr McDonnell had achieved his ambition of becoming the first Irishman to climb K2 after an earlier failed attempt. His friends and family were hoping that reports of a lone figure making their way down the mountain was Mr McDonnell. A Korean team lost five members, including two Nepalis. Among those confirmed dead were three South Koreans, two Nepalese, along with Serbian, Norwegian, Dutch and French climbers. Norwegian media are reporting that Rolf Bae, 33, died in the disaster, while his wife is reportedly trying to make her way down with two other Norwegians. Unconfirmed reports said one Pakistani had died and some foreign and local climbers were unaccounted for.

“The head of the Italian mountaineering group Ev-K2-CNR, Agostino Da Polenza, told SkyItalia television: "According to the rumours from the ... base camp, there should be nine people dead and four still missing." Major Farooq Firoz, a spokesman for the Pakistan military which is organising the search missions, said: "We were told that some climbers are still returning to the camps." A Dutch expedition said on its website that three of its team were descending from Camp Three, at 7,350 meters. Two of them were suffering from frostbite.”

Final Push During the 2008 Tragedy on K2

Graham Bowley and Andrea Kannapell wrote in the New York Times: “For two months, dozens of mountaineers had huddled at camps below the peak, acclimating to the thin air, practicing their ascent and waiting, waiting, for the moment...Friday morning the “weather was perfect,” said Nicholas Rice, an American from Los Angeles, who would later turn back before the Bottleneck because of frostbite. He ended up recording, on blog posts, much of what is known about what went wrong, who died when, and why. [Source: Graham Bowley and Andrea Kannapell, New York Times, August 6, 2008]

““The various expeditions — with members from several countries, including South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Italy, the United States and France — set off from Camp 4, the last camp before the summit, between midnight and 3 a.m., Mr. Rice said. No one is certain exactly how many climbers were there, because no one coordinates the expeditions. Many other details remain unclear. To reach the summit, it is necessary to climb the Bottleneck, then traverse left under the glacier’s giant overhanging brow.

“The final push began in the dark hours after midnight on August 1. Members of at least five expeditions — and perhaps as many as nine — began the last leg of their climb to conquer Mount Everest’s slightly shorter but far more dangerous sister, K2, its peak towering, glistening and pyramidlike above them, laden with snow from recent storms. Gerard McDonnell, 37, an Irish engineer climbing with a Dutch team, wrote on his blog when the start date was set: “Let luck and good fortune prevail!!! Fingers crossed.”

Tragedy Strikes on K2 in 2008

According to the New York Times: “But luck did not hold. On the way up the last 2,000 feet, a Serbian climber fell to his death, and a Pakistani porter died trying to recover his body. And on the way back, a chunk of glacier splintered and came crashing down, sweeping at least four climbers on ropes to their deaths and leaving a handful of others trapped in the death zone above 26,000 feet — desperately cold, starved for oxygen and without ropes. In all, 11 lives were lost in the worst episode on K2 since 13 climbers died over a two-week span in 1986, and one of the worst disasters in mountaineering history. [Source: Graham Bowley and Andrea Kannapell, New York Times, August 6, 2008]

“The first fatality came early, when Dren Mandic, a Serb, fell to his death in the Bottleneck, followed by the Pakistani porter, Jehan Baig. But some of those who waited to try to rescue them decided eventually to press on, despite the loss and the delay. Some of the climbers did not reach the summit until around 8 p.m. — some 16 hours after they had set off, a terrifying expanse of time in temperatures far below zero, with so little oxygen to feed minds and muscles.

“Over the next few hours and days, some of those still left on K2 battled their way to safety, some fell to their deaths and others were simply lost forever in the cold wastes of the mountain. Bulletins posted on the Dutch expedition’s Web site charted the unfolding tragedy: “Gerard McDonnell: status unknown. We have not heard or seen anything from Gerard...Meanwhile, people on mountaineering Web sites were paying their respects to those climbers, like Mr. McDonnell, who were still missing and presumed dead. ”

Chaos and Confusion at the Bottleneck During the 2008 Tragedy on K2

Graham Bowley and Andrea Kannapell wrote in the New York Times: Just a few hundred yards below the summit, as climbers were descending on the fixed ropes down the Bottleneck, an ice ledge above them snapped. “They would not have seen it coming,” said Pat Falvey, a mountain climber and a friend of Mr. McDonnell. [Source: Graham Bowley and Andrea Kannapell, New York Times, August 6, 2008]

“A Dutch climber, Wilco van Rooijen, described the chaos that took place then. Speaking from a hospital bed in the northern Pakistani town of Skardu, he told Reuters, “Everybody was fighting for himself and I still do not understand why everybody were leaving each other.” “People were running down, but didn’t know where to go, so a lot of people were lost on the mountain on the wrong side, wrong route, and then you have a big problem,” he said.

Wilco van Rooijen told National Geographic: “ At the end of the Bottleneck, there is a huge serac hanging. It was a few hundred meters wide and high, and every moment this serac can fall. Sometimes they weigh thousands of kilos. Three people were killed immediately. You know if you’re going to climb K2 that you are willing to face these risks. He explained a serac is not an avalanche. “An avalanche is a lot of snow. It was a serac that fell down and that was the only explanation for killing three people. There was so much happening on the mountain. Some people died because they were lost and couldn’t find camp IV. [Source: Mary Anne Potts, National Geographic, August 6, 2008]

According to the New York Times: “The falling ice had swept away the ropes used to navigate the Bottleneck, and as night fell and the temperature plummeted, the climbers struggled with an awful choice: wait for rescue in the death zone, or descend without fixed ropes. Temperatures at the top of K2 overnight can reach minus 40 degrees, Mr. Rice said. Early on Saturday morning a group of five climbers were spotted by observers at a lower camp; they seemed to have made the decision to descend, Mr. Falvey said in a telephone interview. “They stepped out onto the section, and they fell,” he said.

K2 Climbers Froze to Death Hanging Upside down on Ropes

Tom Peterkin wrote in The Telegraph: Van Rooijen said fatal errors while preparing for the final ascent contributed to the deaths. "There was a Korean guy hanging upside down," Mr Van Rooijen said. "There was a second Korean guy who held him with a rope, but he was also in shock and then a third guy was there also, and they were trying to survive. But I also had to survive." [Source: Tom Peterkin, The Telegraph, August 5, 2008]

Mr Van Rooijen said he passed them on his descent. They declined his offer of help. He said that he was screaming instructions to people to work together, but they appeared consumed by self-preservation. "They were thinking of my gas, my rope, whatever," he said.

According to Mr Van Rooijen, the seeds of the tragedy were sown when advance climbers laid ropes in some of the wrong places on the 28,250 feet peak, particularly in a notorious gully known as The Bottleneck where one false step can lead to death. "We were astonished. We had to move it. That took of course, many, many hours. Some turned back because they did not trust it anymore," said Mr Van Rooijen, 40.

He said those who went on reached the summit just before nightfall. As the fastest climbers descended in darkness across The Bottleneck, about 1,148 feet below the summit, a huge serac, or column of ice, fell. Rooijen said a Norwegian climber and two Nepalese sherpas were swept away. His own team was split up in the darkness.

Survivors of the 2008 Tragedy on K2

Graham Bowley and Andrea Kannapell wrote in the New York Times: “Mr. van Rooijen made it down the mountain without ropes and, according to Mr. Falvey, he was spotted on Sunday from one of the lower camps, a lone climber wearing an orange jacket emerging from the wilderness. He had apparently strayed from the route where the returning mountaineers were expected, called Abruzzi, and instead was descending on the Cessen Route down K2. [Source: Graham Bowley and Andrea Kannapell, New York Times, August 6, 2008]

“On Tuesday, the climber likely to be the last of the survivors, an Italian, Marco Confortola, staggered on frostbite-blackened feet to the base camp, for a time refusing help and oxygen, preferring to make his own way down. “I understand that many died, and that only a few made it down,” he said by telephone, in a conversation reported by an Italian scientific official, as he waited for a Pakistani military rescue helicopter to pluck him from the unforgiving mountainside. “I am happy that I was one of them.” He was airlifted to a nearby town Wednesday morning for medical treatment, Reuters reported.

“Seemingly still in shock from his ordeal, Mr. Confortola gave a sketchy recollection of the events, inevitably full of questions about what happened and what went wrong. He said his own group lost time before reaching the summit at 7 p.m. on Friday, because they did not have the right equipment. “I think we arrived late on the summit of K2 because the technical equipment was low quality,” he was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA. He said he had tried to help some of his fellow climbers but had also endangered himself. “To try to help, to save the others, I froze my feet and hands,” he told the Italian news channel Sky TG24. “But instinct makes you want to save them, and for me that’s a good thing.”

How K2 Survivor Wilco van Rooijen Survived

Kirkpatrick Reardon wrote in National Geographic:“Clear skies and a new moon greeted Dutch mountaineer Wilco van Rooijen at the summit of K2 on Friday, August 1. That was before deteriorating visibility and an ice-avalanche turned that calm night into one of the deadliest in the history of the Himalaya, stranding van Rooijen with his climbing partners overnight at an altitude of 8,000 meters. Van Rooijen struggled slowly down the mountain face, and, incredibly, survived a second night at high altitude before reuniting with his team two days later. [Source: Mary Anne Potts, National Geographic, August 6, 2008]

When asked how he survived on the mountain, van Rooijen told National Geographic: “We were at the summit at 7 p.m. in the evening, which is much too late. It was completely dark. I decided to spend the night above the Bottleneck and the traverse. I never saw the accident. I spent two nights on the mountain. I got third degree frostbite on all my toes and both feet. My mountaineering experience let me be quiet and patient enough to wait for better weather where we were.

“Sleep was not a problem. We were busy for 20 hours. If you sit, you fall asleep immediately. The only problem is avoiding frostbite. The only thing to do is to keep on drinking. If you don’t drink at high altitude, then you dry out very quickly. You have a high breathing frequency and you get dry very quickly without noticing it. I took two liters of water to the summit. For the first hour I had some hot tea. For the last hour I had some energy drink. I lost some of my water on the way to the summit. I thought it wasn’t a problem. I regretted that later.

“The biggest problem was that we couldn’t find camp IV in the darkness. We went down in the darkness because we went so late to the summit. And we were so late to the summit because there were so many people going to the summit. After I spent the night, it was difficult to come down. I had radio contact with my climbing partners in camp IV, but it was so hard finding each other, and then we didn’t find camp four. I was on the wrong side of the mountain. People at base camp saw me go over the wrong side of the ridge and they radioed people in camp IV. I had to sit out a whiteout because I couldn’t see anything and I knew I couldn’t go down any further. So I waited for a few hours. And then I saw through the clouds that I could go down on an easier glacier. I was all alone.

“The next morning when I tried to go down I had to go down very difficult terrain. And there were whiteout conditions. I knew it was impossible for a helicopter to fly there. Either you go down or you sit and wait. You sit knowing that no one is coming. Or you go down taking the big technical risk and if you fall you are lost. Then I saw through the clouds an easier slope. I had to climb at my limits without using a rope to get to this easier slope. It was a long time I was ping-ponging between hope and failure. Finally I had the luck that when the clouds disappeared and I could reach the easier slopes. I had gone a long time without eating or drinking. I got blisters on my tongue and lips. It was like hell. I was drinking snow. There was only one focus: going down. If I get more oxygen I will think more clearly.

“There were so many moments when I thought I saw a climber and thought I heard voices, but I knew there couldn’t be people there. It was a scary moment when I knew I was reaching my limits. I was thinking no one knows where I am and they will not be coming back. After two nights, I crawled into camp III. At that time I didn’t have a clue it was camp III on our route. I was thinking it was two strangers. But they were my friends. They started melting snow and gave me oxygen. I was lucky I only froze my toes. If there was more wind my face ears and face would have froze.

K2 Climber Turns Back Because of Misshaps: Probably Saved His Life

American Nicholas Rice was aiming for the summit of K2 but was forced to turn back after have some careless mishaps — which may have saved his life. Sue Horton wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “When Nicholas Rice awoke just before midnight July 31, he was confident that the next day he would stand on the summit of K2. The forecast was for good weather, and after some earlier health issues, Rice was feeling strong. The 23-year-old climber planned to climb K2 as he had other Himalayan peaks, alone and without supplemental oxygen. In his tent at Camp 4, a staging ground for summit attempts located 8,000 meters up the mountain in the so-called "death zone," he began the tedious job of melting snow on a small stove. He knew it would take more than an hour to melt the two liters he would need for his climb, but just as he had finished melting the first panful of water, he spilled it, soaking his socks and delaying his start for two hours. [Source: Sue Horton, Los Angeles Times, August 7, 2008]

The delay probably saved his life. Rice had hoped to begin his push for the summit about 2 a.m. But because of the spill he did not leave his tent until nearly 4:30. An hour into the climb, he began to worry about frostbite. "I knew in the back of my mind that I might not have enough time to summit because I was starting so late," he said in an interview from K2 base camp in Pakistan on Wednesday. "Then, when my hands just wouldn't warm up, I decided to turn back and try again the next day. . . . K2 is already the hardest mountain to climb in the world. You don't need any added difficulties."

Back at Camp 4, as he and other climbers were talking, an Italian watching the peak shouted "accident!" and gestured toward a steep section of the mountain known as the Bottleneck. Someone had fallen from the ropes, and it appeared that another climber was attempting to help. Rice and the others began planning a rescue, radioing to camps lower on the mountain where climbers wouldn't be as debilitated as those already in the death zone, where much thinner air quickly depletes muscle strength, stamina and mental functioning.

“But they soon learned over the radio that the man who fell, a Serbian, as well as a porter who had tried to rescue him, were dead. At that point, Rice decided to head down the mountain. "Someone had just died on the route I was attempting to climb," he said. "Clearly the ropes weren't fixed correctly, and I wasn't going to risk that."

After a night at 3,000 meters, Rice and another climber continued down toward base camp on Saturday morning. When they stopped lower down to melt water and rest, Rice turned on his satellite phone and received a disturbing text message from his mother. After he had left Camp 4, a massive sheet of ice near the K2 summit had fallen, causing an avalanche that killed some climbers and left others stranded high on the mountain.

In nearly two months on the mountain getting acclimatized and carrying supplies to higher and higher camps, Rice had grown closest to French climber Hugues d'Aubarede, a 61-year-old grandfather who was making his third K2 attempt. D'Aubarede had left camp more than two hours before Rice on Friday morning, and he probably would have been near the summit when the ice fell. When he finally got” to the base camp, “there, he learned that d'Aubarede had reached the summit, but that he had been stranded above the avalanche. While he still hoped for the best, Rice knew that his friend's survival was unlikely. "A night outside above 8,000 meters is almost always deadly," he said.

Climbers at base camp were "huddled around a telescope, trying to see the upper mountain," Rice said, but it took time for reliable information to trickle in. When it finally did, Rice learned that d'Aubarede was dead, along with the two high-altitude porters who had climbed with him. In the days leading up to the summit attempt, Rice and d'Aubarede had given each other the phone numbers of their closest family members. "You come here knowing there is a real possibility that you're going to die on the mountain," Rice said. "Hugues said he wanted me to be the one to tell his family if something horrible happened." The calls weren't easy, Rice said, but he fulfilled his obligation, knowing how much his own family would have appreciated such a gesture if the situation had been reversed. Meanwhile, he hopes to climb in the Himalayas again next summer, he said. "But maybe I'll do something easier, like Mt. Everest."

Questions About What Happened During the 2008 Tragedy on K2

Graham Bowley and Andrea Kannapell wrote in the New York Times: “In the aftermath, criticism has swirled about poor preparations and delays caused by climbers laying ropes improperly in the Bottleneck, the precipitous climb just below the summit. There were questions, too, about whether the attempt to reclaim a fallen climber was too costly and whether some climbers failed to turn back when it was clear that they would not make it back in daylight. The presence of hired high-altitude porters on some of the teams raised questions about whether some of the expeditions might have been commercial, guided efforts with incompletely prepared climbers — reminiscent of the disastrous 1996 Everest climb that claimed eight lives. [Source: Graham Bowley and Andrea Kannapell, New York Times, August 6, 2008]

When asked why was the peak so crowded, Dutch mountaineer Wilco van Rooijen told National Geographic: “ The whole month of July was very bad so we had to wait for a weather window at the end of July or the beginning of August. All expedition teams were waiting for the same moment. We had to wait at camp 4 to get through the Bottleneck. [Source: Mary Anne Potts, National Geographic, August 6, 2008]

“Were the other climbers less experienced than you? In the daylight [before the summit attempt] when we were fixing the rope, one man fell down. That was a really stupid accident. These accidents are not supposed to happen on K2. People are not used to climbing these technical parts. Everest you can climb without technical experience. Here you have camp IV then snow (glacier) and then the Bottleneck and then a very technical traverse at altitude of 8,200 meters. And then you have to go to the summit. If you are luck you will have a full moon. It was full moon on the 18th of July.

Dead K2 Climbers in 2021

Three climbers — Pakistani Ali Sadpara, Jon Snorri of Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile — went missing while attempting to scale K2 in February 2021 and are presumed to have died. were waning as heavy clouds continued to obscure K2. Kathy Gannon,of Associated Press wrote: Family members grew more desperate a day after bad weather halted the search for the climbers. Pakistani military helicopters were grounded. They waited for an opening in the weather but were unable to resume the search said Karrar Haidri, head of the Pakistan Alpine Club. The three lost contact with base camp late on Friday and were reported missing on Saturday, after their support team stopped receiving communications from them during their ascent of K2. [Source: Kathy Gannon, Associated Press, February 9, 2021]

“The three-day search for the climbers was halted on Monday as heavy clouds enveloped most of K2. The families in a statement late Monday said they made the “difficult decision” to wait for the weather to improve before the search resumes. The statement said the search-and-rescue mission was receiving high resolution satellite imagery that can enable it to view “areas inaccessible to helicopters because of harsh winter conditions and excessive winds."

The Pakistani military has been flying the helicopters, even as clouds hid the mountain and made each successive run increasingly dangerous. The family statement said of the search that, before it halted, it was “72 grueling hours of nonstop intensive search-and-rescue efforts.” Among those waiting at the base camp was 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. He waited 20 hours at a lower camp before making the descent last week. Since the search started, he has been on the helicopter flights, searching for his father. “We know only a miracle can bring them back alive and we are waiting for the miracle,” Sajid said on Tuesday. He also said his father had volunteered for dozens of search operations and had “saved many climbers.”

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (, Official Gateway to the Government of Pakistan (, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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