More Drama on K2: Imtiaz and Akbar Refuse to Leave

K2 Winter 8000ers
K2's upper flanks from the helicopter on February 8. Photo: Chhang Dawa Sherpa

The search operation on K2 remains confusing, to say the least. According to Dawa Sherpa and sources in Pakistan, Imtiaz Hussain and Akbar Ali — relatives of Ali Sadpara — have refused to retreat to Base Camp and they remain on the mountain, despite the bad weather. At the moment, it is unclear whether they are still in Camp 1 or have moved further up, as some sources suggested.

The experienced pair flew to K2 by helicopter two days ago and climbed immediately to Camp 1, with plans to hurry up K2 in time to locate the three missing climbers. They have oxygen with them but they are not acclimatized, so it is unlikely that even in the best weather, they could reach anywhere near the altitude where Ali Sadpara and his two companions disappeared.

Nor is it likely that a ground search would find anything when helicopters drew a blank despite three days of searching. Though well-intentioned, if they do indeed decide to proceed upward, they risk worsening the tragedy by undertaking a highly dangerous mission where the chances of helping are now, alas, virtually nil.

To make things worse, the Seven Summit Treks team is heading home tomorrow. Jasmine Tours and John Snorri’s home team have arranged for Snorri’s kitchen crew to remain at the foot of the mountain for a few more days, to support and communicate with Imtiaz and Akbar. But if they run into trouble, there will be no potential rescuers in place.

Meanwhile, rescue coordinator Vanessa O’Brien has confirmed that they are gathering information from the missing climbers’ satellite phones and that they will share an official release soon. Hopefully, this will offer some reliable information amid the mess of rumors, contradictory versions, fake news, and baseless comments which can only add more pain to the already bitter end of this K2 winter expedition.

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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Sheikh
Sheikh
23 days ago

I never met Ali Sadpara yet I feel crushed right now. Not that Snorri and Mohr are any less important, but Ali, due to his life’s history, was a hero of mine long before the current social media bandwagon. That said, Imtiaz and Akbar are two more assets of the completely neglected climbing community of Pakistan. They are just as important as Ali. Hope they don’t take any undue risks and return safe to their families.

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DxM
DxM
23 days ago
Reply to  Sheikh

I know, about Ali. Ever since I read about his story of climbing reminded here in one of the previous articles, I cannot stop thinking about it. It all feels more like a tragic book or film than real life…. heartbreaking story. Hoping for Imtiaz and Akbar safe return, what they do looks like a pure and beautiful tribute to their relationship with Ali.

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Sheikh
Sheikh
23 days ago
Reply to  DxM

It really is. Ali’s story is that of almost all Pakistani climbers who, without any system of support in the country, were only left with carrying massive loads for foreign teams without any recognition in exchange for peanuts. Ali was the first one who, through his sheer metal and talent, finally and truly made the world realize the brilliance Pakistani climbers had to offer. He was the messiah and sole representative of hundreds of these unsung Pakistani climbers. That is why these men love him. It is also the reason why it hurts so much.

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cyrous hashemian
cyrous hashemian
22 days ago
Reply to  Sheikh

Very well said

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Don Paul
Don Paul
23 days ago

I read on social media that 5 of the seven summits team are doing the 5 day hike back on foot. All the others in their group of 20 who hiked in were either evacuated by helicopter, or killed.

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Jay W.
Jay W.
23 days ago
Reply to  Don Paul

Yikes, that can not be right… can it?

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Don Paul
Don Paul
23 days ago
Reply to  Jay W.
Abbas
Abbas
23 days ago
Reply to  Don Paul

Just read this and Hanna says at 8000m it was -60C and had another 8-10 hours of climb to go – at which point he decided to turn back. Considering that that scenario would be the same (or even worse) for John, Ali and Pablo – one would think they would come to the same conclusion – however, i believe Hanna was using Oxygen – and had a better rational mind, as opposed to all 3 that weren’t (or atleast didn’t right till up to bottleneck). I’ve heard people start to hallucinate when exposed to extreme cold, and without oxygen… Read more »

Sheikh
Sheikh
23 days ago
Reply to  Abbas

I would advise against speculation. We truly have no idea what happened up there. Also, 1) Sadpara was no stranger to winter ascents on 8000ers by any means. He wasn’t averse to turning around when conditions did not seem favorable either, as seen on many of his previous attempts, including winter Nangaparbat and Everest. 2) Doubt Sadpara would have let Snorri force suicidal decisions on the team. Doubt Snorri would have ever tried to force them in the first place. John wasn’t just a gung ho tourist.

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Sean
Sean
23 days ago
Reply to  Sheikh

I do not know if John Snorri tried to force them to continue when the mountain was telling them not to move forward, but I do know that John cried and took it very hard when they had to abort last year. From what I’ve heard about him is that he seems to have been a pretty obsessive man. That being said, we have NO IDEA what happened. An absolutely unforeseeable event could’ve taken place.

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Twinkletoes
Twinkletoes
23 days ago
Reply to  Sean

According to Bielecki’s book, Ali cried (or almost cried) when he had to leave the winter Gasherbrum expedition 10 years ago… I’d guess it is nothing exceptional in such emotional settings.

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Omar
Omar
22 days ago
Reply to  Abbas

Ali would have never done that he retreated from Nanga 2015 once when he was just 300 m below and team retreated because they wanted to do it together. I trust Sajid who tells they were fine and in good shape until he left them at bottleneck. Rest is mystery except for the truth that they are gone. Yes, overcrowding could have played a role but its most likely a falling rock, ice or bad weather. They were all good, strong and experienced climbers.

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Lily T.
Lily T.
23 days ago
Reply to  Jay W.

So far this year two climbers are confirmed to have died on K2 (Atanas Skatov last week and Sergi Mingote in January). Unfortunately, it seems that Sadpara, Snorri, and Mohr have met the same fate, bringing the total to five. The article that you appear to be referencing from the BBC (someone linked it below) is using some pretty inflammatory language. It says that only five out of the original 20 international members of the SST team (of course, this article doesn’t mention that 21 Sherpas who are also part of the team, supporting the others…) are walking out of… Read more »

Don Paul
Don Paul
23 days ago
Reply to  Lily T.

Maybe so. SST was not forthcoming about the extent of the frostbite injuries. I’m not sure the team that summitted was capable of walking out.

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ipgon
ipgon
23 days ago

Excelent text!

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Roxanne
23 days ago

What if they decided not to push for the summit Friday because otherwise they would have done that in the dark. And wait and see the next day, just slept too long because they were exhausted, and the bad weather was already there. Did those airplanes ever get close enough to see?

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Climb From Home Mountaineer
Climb From Home Mountaineer
23 days ago

Absolutely no need for anymore heroics else they will putting themselves and potential rescuers in danger.

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Imran
Imran
23 days ago

I hv heard Mount Everest is a piece of cake compared to K2. It is the harshest climate one can endure on earth. It was always risky to scale K2 in winters, reaching 8,611 metres while beating -30C to -40C temperatures. At times it can drop to whopping -50C with 200kph wind speeds. From base camp at 5,000 metres there were at least 4 challenging sections rising nearly 4,000 metres straight up. It is a monstrous mountain. In normal weather conditions we know there is 25% death rate of mountaineers on K2, but in winters it has only been scaled… Read more »

Samson Simon Sharaf
23 days ago

I have been a climber and brushed these areas in my days. Porters in Pakistan are the most exploited and neglected labour community. They rise through the ranks with no official patronage. Each step into more difficulty and danger is underlined by their desire of a better living for families. They keep singing but no one listens. They are the invisible foot soldiers of mountaineering in Pakistan. Compared to Nepalese Sherpas, their salaries are a fraction, insurance money insignificant and no post benefits. The government, local development organisations and international mountaineering community are all to blame. The tragedy is a… Read more »

Vanina
Vanina
17 days ago

So true and so sad!
My thoughts go to the familes of all those sherpas who remain high up in the mountains – invisible both up there and down here – and, unfortunately, they do this for a living, and sadly for peanuts.

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John BEZIK
23 days ago

As time Marches on the less hope their is for the recovery of these climbers alive. K2 is brutal as I’m sure the two climbers still searching for their love ones
Know. Let’s hope they don’t get into a situation adding to the tragedy unfolding before us .That being said I’M Praying for a Miracle to find these three climbers alive. The fight is not over, but is diminishing quickly. GOD bless everyone involved in these situations and their families.

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Tadeo
Tadeo
23 days ago

it’s amazing the will, hope and love of these rescuers.. and the risk they are taking.. I hope everything will be ok.. they know the mountain well

please keep us updated. thanks for your excellent work!

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Sean
Sean
23 days ago

You’re no hero if you conquer K2. You’re just an idiot who got lucky. Think of your families before you decide to do this.

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cyrous hashemian
cyrous hashemian
22 days ago

2 very brave and loyal men with great honor that can not be found in the Western countries

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cyrous hashemian
cyrous hashemian
22 days ago

Imitaz and Amber. Two men with loyalty bravery and honor. Something that cannot be found in Western countries

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Tearorcell
Tearorcell
16 days ago

This coming from a guy who’s brethren blow themselves up for so called “honour”. Savage animal u are to say that.

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K2 mountaineers fan
22 days ago

Imtiaz and akbar are common examples of Pakistanies that at what extent they give importance to blood relation for each other and honor for great foreign guests. No matter how a big risk they will be ready for unlimited sacrifice. Like previous Nanga Parbt rescue mission. May be better understand by snorri n mohr families.

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Noman
Noman
22 days ago

I am checking my phone every other hour in hopes that some miracle happens and we all hear these climbers are alive..and as time passes by the anxiety and emotional feelings about these daring men grow..sometimes I think no one should die like this..their family suffers and kids take the burden their entire life..not sure if thats heroic or not and may be to some its very personal to achieve these heights..I am still unable to process and worried, sad and not sure how to describe my sadness, just a very painful reality that we have lost world’s 3 best… Read more »

Boz Šahin
Boz Šahin
22 days ago

Anz informations were are they now? in Base camp or in higher camps?

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muhammad fiaz
muhammad fiaz
21 days ago

what the point of summiting k2 in winters when it is pretty much difficult in summer, from start it looks like a suicide mission. Nepalis did this out of sheer luck and this should be discouraged so that many lives can be saved.

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Muhammad Khan
Muhammad Khan
21 days ago
Reply to  muhammad fiaz

I believe you have absolutely no idea how garlic tastes… too disappointing and dis-respecting! those Nepalis you are referring to so casually are LIVING LEGENDS! And there is perhaps no luck its just that you do it or you dont, its your will and your expertise… you know for a fact a handful of people has ever been able to scale K2 and more have been to SPACE… Respect to all those who have lost their lives tryin to achieve something for a cause rather than dieng dreamles and cause less, world needs more people like Imtiaz and Akbar As… Read more »

Muhammad Khan
Muhammad Khan
21 days ago

Speechless … and respect to the two for their guts! At the least we can remeber them in our prayers and may Allah SWT be their guide and the light in the dark!
They can DEFINITELY do this

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Mohsin
Mohsin
21 days ago

Hoping for a miracle 😥

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John
1 day ago

Amazing…..

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