K2 Priorities: Summits and the Missing Climbers

8000ers K2 Karakorum
Prayers (on Buddhist flags) rise toward K2. Photo: Federico Scheuch

Yesterday, just before the summit wave on K2 began, Sherpa rope fixers found the bodies of Ali Sadpara, John Snorri, and Juan Pablo Mohr, who went missing last winter.

Since the news broke, emotions have run high. Some immediately blamed the media for reporting an item of public interest. The search for these three fallen climbers was the largest and longest in K2’s history. Others tried to grab their 15 minutes of dubious fame by making up facts and posting misplaced images. Some even shared photos of the pitiful corpse known as Green Boots, lying at 8,500m on Everest’s North Side. They claimed that it showed one of the deceased climbers on K2. In fact, it was Tsewang Paljor of India, who died in 1996.

Wild speculations

Others have used rumored details (which have not been publicly shared) to speculate about the cause of death, the time, and most importantly, whether the trio had summited or not.

A strong trend in Pakistan was to ask other climbers (at least those from Pakistan) to cancel their summit pushes and instead, collaborate to recover the bodies. They argued that many Pakistani climbers claimed that their motivation was the legacy of Ali Sadpara. They should now honor that legacy, they went on, instead of selfishly going for the summit. Critics also appeared when Elia Saikaly asked for spare oxygen in order to be able to retrieve the bodies.

Map of the Abruzzi Route, showing the site of the findings. Photo: Team Ali Sadpara on Twitter

What we have reported so far has been publicly shared by direct sources. This includes climbers and expedition leaders currently on K2 and directly involved with the findings. Garrett Madison — currently on his way to the summit — confirmed his Sherpa team’s initial discovery. John Snorri’s home team confirmed the color of the down suit that he wore when he disappeared. JP Mohr’s cousin, Federico Scheuch, also issued official updates on Instagram, and Base Camp outfitter Asghar Ali Porik shared details as well.

Can Pakistan execute the world’s highest sling operation?

Scheuch stated that they wanted to retrieve Juan Pablo Mohr’s remains if possible, although he assumed that they were too high for helicopters.

“We must assume that most teams’ priority is the summit and not the [retrieval], but we are also aware that Pakistan’s people want to bring Ali Sadpara down and we will join that effort,” he said.

Ali Porik of Jasmine Tours, who runs the Base Camp logistics for Sajid Sadpara’s expedition, agrees that bringing the bodies down will be a major challenge. But he hasn’t dismissed the possibility that helicopters could help.

“It needs lots of manpower, hard work and if possible, Pakistan army air support [to bring off] the world’s highest sling operations,” he said.

The route through the Bottleneck. Photo: Team Ali Sadpara on Twitter

In Base Camp, a group of friends of the deceased climbers, including Tamara Lunger, held a ceremony last weekend at the Gilkey Memorial and could possibly help. And some climbers, shaken by recent events to abandon their attempts on K2, including Oswald Rodrigo Pereira and Carlos Garranzo, have decided to remain in BC as long as other climbers are up there. They are ready to pitch in if anyone gets into trouble.

Sajid Sadpara, the only survivor of that doomed summit push on February 5, and the son of one of the deceased, Ali Sadpara, was very close to the site when Sherpas found his father’s remains. Supporting him are Pasang Kaji and Elia Saikaly, who is filming a documentary entitled The Calling.

Sajid Sadpara. Photo: Elia Saikaly

Sajid back to the Bottleneck

Saikaly continues to text via InReach. This morning, he wrote, “we are leaving Camp 4 with Sajid to climb the Bottleneck, where he will meet his father. I need to confirm 100 percent where my friend John Snorri is and what happened up there. Theories are coming together.”

Whiteout conditions postponed their departure. According to the latest news, they were preparing to set off at 11:30 pm last night. With this timing, they will surely meet some climbers on their way to the summit. Some, such as Niels Jespers and Hugo Ayaviri — both climbing without O2 — are setting off from Camp 4. Others, including  Madison Mountaineering’s clients, are relying on oxygen but are starting lower down. They spent today resting at Camp 3.

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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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Don Paul
Don Paul
1 month ago

In Nepal they would just leave the bodies where they are and climb over them. I can’t believe Pakistanis would do that.

+6
TangoMikePapa
TangoMikePapa
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

Especially when one of the fallen climbers is one of their own. And a national hero.

+3
Last edited 1 month ago by TangoMikePapa
Khizer
Khizer
1 month ago
Reply to  Don Paul

As per Elia, Sajid has already buried JP. It felt good to hear that.

0
Paul
Paul
1 month ago

Elia use his tracker just for sending messages so it will not show any changes in location as long as he not sent the text, most likely they went up.

0
Paul
Paul
1 month ago

Elia Saikaly summited K2 today morning so looks like he is not interested in recovery mission as well. Did Sajid went to the summit too?

0
Samson Simon Sharaf
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul

Yes

0
Samson Simon Sharaf
1 month ago

I like the curt observations.
As regards the fallen heroes, in our Pakistani Culture Burial is essential for a closure. Seldom are dead abandoned.
Yet, bringing down bodies from the bottleneck needs a super human and super machine effort. Maybe the Eurocopter could do it one at a time. Tragedy of 2008 on K2 is still fresh.
Recall that an entire military camp was buried in Giyari by a breaking serac that triggered a huge avalanche. Within a year each body was recovered.
Cheerios

+1
Samson Simon Sharaf
1 month ago

Sajid Sadpara, Pasang Kaji and Elia Saikaly Sumitted K2 today at 7:45 AM. They will collects belongings of the three fallen heroes. May they have a safe return.

+5
Armchair Mountaineer
Armchair Mountaineer
1 month ago

So, the Pakistanis and Elia proceeded to summit K2 and not turn around in order to honor the legacy.

Just goes to show that mountaineering has become nothing more than a fame-grabbing sport. Just a rich person’s playground and for ego-seeking individuals. So much for Elia and Sadpara “honoring their father’s legacy”. I knew summit fever was going to get to them. Pathetic individuals.

All the Pakistanis making it sound like K2 is something prestigious – it’s nothing more than a mountain that’s overrun with selfish inviduals. Find something else to be proud of because K2 is garbage.

+1
Samson Simon Sharaf
1 month ago

Summitting was to honor the deceased heroes. When a soldier falls, others don’t back off.
They will be given proper burial rites by climbers that are around. Sajid has done it twice, a world climber for the youngest. Right now I am worried about their safe return to Camp 3

+4
Startup Bro
Startup Bro
1 month ago

Except that this is not a war. This is a fools playground.

+1
Khizer
Khizer
1 month ago

I’m sorry but that is an idiotic comment. That kid up there has more attached to this than everybody else put together, least of all a nobody who never knew Ali Sadpara’s name until he went missing. Man the audacity of your comment is unbelievable. If Sajid believes that they can’t or shouldn’t be brought down then everyone else can jog right off. Bringing them down will risk many more lives and still probably would not be accomplished. You want another couple of bodies to bring down? Instead of being the loud mouthed hypocrite that you are, recognize and help… Read more »

Updates
Updates
1 month ago

Summit crucial to seek evidence if the fallen 3 missing climbers accomplished winter summit. The summit is part of research mission for clues and evidence.

+2
Rebecca
Rebecca
1 month ago

The summit was part of the evidence-gathering, fact-finding mission, no fame seeking involved.

+4
Marie
Marie
1 month ago

I think that it would be important to bring them down if only to establish their cause of death, just to rule out that they were killed by SOMEONE. Now you may say that this is highly improbable anyway, but nobody would have thought that people would want to kill Ueli Steck by stoning him until they did. In the bottleneck, it would be easy to cut the rope from above or throw stones at climbers that are in there, causing their fall. When Ueli Steck died on Lhotse, he had but one crampon and no ice axes even though… Read more »

Argy
Argy
1 month ago
Reply to  Marie

Ok…. I would suggest maybe a wee bit of therapy is in order here.

+5
Marie
Marie
1 month ago
Reply to  Argy

You are the typical example of someone who tries to refute other’s arguments by attacking them personally – for lack of counter-arguments. We used to do this in kindergarden. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pAaVK8eJsfo

0
Updates
Updates
1 month ago
Reply to  Marie

So called “booby-traps” exist, in military, and even with practical jokesters. It’s possible to set traps and not be present, happens all the time.

0
Samson Simon Sharaf
1 month ago
Reply to  Marie

There never was any foul play that chilly day in winter. Just that the weather window was closing and the plume gathering. Facedown with legs pointing upwards implies it was perhaps after the summit. Now how can they be brought down. Lower the bodies as close to Cesen Depression and let them tumble down and retrieve by chopper alter. But this is a ethical question and very controversial. Employ a Chopper like Airbus Euro Copter Squirrel, but it has load limitations. Bring them down with ropes. A super human efforts for which no manpower will be available. Recall the tragedy… Read more »

Ronald
Ronald
1 month ago

I am reading some very weird, wrong and disrespectfull comments here. I am glad you are here with a little more insight in the matter. I assume you are from pakistan and from the winter comments, it seems you know the sadparis personally. Thank you for your comments. I hope all the climbers return safely.

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Max Madera
Max Madera
1 month ago
Reply to  Marie

Ueli Steck died in Nupse.

There was sufficient explanation regarding the uncut ropes, but in any case, that was weeks before the last attempt to climb K2 of the season.

After early morning that ill fate day in the upper slopes of K2, there was nobody else but Ali (who waited all night at C3), let alone a Sanhedrin of jealous mountaineers throwing stones at 8300 meters in winter, come on, what on earth are you thinking about!

+3
Craig Quigley
Craig Quigley
1 month ago
Reply to  Marie

You’re a nut job

+1
Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Marie

Where did this mysterious individual who cut the rope from above come from when no one else was seen that day?

+2
Marie
Marie
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

If I wanted to commit such a crime, I wouldn’t make myself be seen either. Remember that a few Sherpas denied climbers entry to tents in this horrible K2 Winter night which would certainly have lead to these climbers’ death. Luckily other climbers had pity on them and saved their lives by letting them in (thereby endangering their own lives). There is a lot of well-founded, even justified anger in the Nepali climbers’ community which broke out when Ueli Steck clashed with a few members of it. They told him not to return (and for some time he did not… Read more »

rob
rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Marie

This comment is bordering on racism.

0
Marie
Marie
1 month ago
Reply to  rob

If you think so, you have not read it properly. That a Frenchman is a serial killer does not mean that all Frenchmen are serial killers, and that one Sherpa kicked someone already on his knees and a few other Sherpas were prepared to let someone freeze to death does not mean that all Sherpas are prone to do that. I am still waiting for a founded argument to refute what I said.

+1
Marie
Marie
1 month ago
Reply to  rob

On the contrary, many members of the Sherpa people do heroic deeds for others, hauling up heavy things, rescuing climbers, setting and fixing rope and breaking trail under the most dangerous of conditions – deeds that are highly underrated and undervalued.

+1
Twinkletoes
Twinkletoes
1 month ago
Reply to  Marie

It is staggering that you persist in your insane speculation. First off, the Nepalis had already flown back like 2 weeks before. Second, Ali, Snorri and JP 3 were the only people beyond Camp 3. Rotor had gone down, Sajid had gone down, everybody had gone down. Third, the conditions were barely survivable. Even if there was somebody there, NOONE could have sufficient energy to kill someone up there, let alone 3 people. Also there is no way they could have “hidden” up there for days and survived. I fear I’m just feeding the troll here, but just in case… Read more »

Marie
Marie
1 month ago
Reply to  Twinkletoes

It seems impossible for you guys to argue with someone who holds a different opinion without insulting him or her. Nobody would have had to hide there for days to do that. You completely ignore my argument that Ueli Steck and his companions would have been killed if Melissa Arnot had not interfered, and that a few Sherpas up there were prepared to let fellow climbers freeze to death. Let me close with Ueli Steck’s own words after his clash with Sherpas: “Wenn Dir 100 Leute sagen, sie würden Dich umbringen, und unter diesen 100 Leuten befinden sich einige, mit… Read more »

Updates
Updates
1 month ago
Reply to  rob

So called “booby-traps” exist, in military, and even with practical jokesters. It’s possible to set traps and not be present, happens all the time.

These comments are not racism. Racism comments fly to quickly. Diversity Equity Inclusion definitions would NOT consider these statements as racism. Analysis of facts has been shared in rational, calm, insightful manner.

+1
Marie
Marie
1 month ago
Reply to  Updates

Thank you.

0
Lenore Jones
Lenore Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Updates

There is absolutely no reason to suspect anything of the kind other than racism. You are delusional.

0
Lenore Jones
Lenore Jones
1 month ago
Reply to  Marie

Stone fall on climbing does not need foul play to happen, and if you fall, you drop things. You are delusional to put any of this down to foul play.

0
Elena
Elena
1 month ago

I am extremely surprised that Elia and Sajid proceeded to summit K2! Everything Elia posted on social media suggested that their only goal was to find bodies. All his beautiful words turned out to be a hypocritical lie?! Maybe they were hoping to find evidence that John Snorri’s team had a summit?

+2
Startup Bro
Startup Bro
1 month ago
Reply to  Elena

They’re all a bunch of hypocrites. Good at self promotion but not witholding any values.

+1
Federica Masante
Federica Masante
1 month ago
Reply to  Elena

So just because they summited they are now selfish morons and no longer care about the retrieval of the bodies? I find comments like yours so obtuse and narrow-minded. Please take off those blinkers and try to look at the bigger picture.

+2
Elena
Elena
1 month ago

Federica, I did not offend anyone, much less call them “selfish morons”. Since February I have carefully read everything Elia wrote! He never once mentioned his plans to climb K2! Even if his plans changed quite recently, he did not talk about it! I have nothing against the desires of any person summited K2! But in this context, I think that talking about the “mission” my feelings were cleverly manipulated! I will wait for what Elia writes. Maybe he can explain.

+4
Federica Masante
Federica Masante
1 month ago
Reply to  Elena

You say you have been following them carefully, and yet you are so quick to judge them on their actions without even waiting to hear what they have to say first. So I’m sorry, but you do come across as judgmental and narrow minded to me.

+1
dontiti
dontiti
1 month ago
Reply to  Elena

Everyone is throwing around speculations, hypothesis and opinions. Here is one from me: “Juan Pablo, John and Ali didn’t summit K2. That’s why Sajid and Elia decided to summit, to take them to the summit and try to close this tragedy.”
This hypothesis is just an hypothesis and doesn’t matter. It will stay that way until the involved decide what to tell to the public, they’re still people closing a chapter and we all should respect their decisions.

+2
Elena
Elena
1 month ago
Reply to  dontiti

It’s right! I will wait for what Elia has to say.. it cannot be ruled out that they wanted to make sure if Ali, John Snorri and Juan Pablo had a summit K2.

+2
Rebecca
Rebecca
1 month ago
Reply to  Elena

Yes, part of this winter’s teams summit plan was to plant the Pakistan flag. Locating this flag, or not, can be part of the fact-finding.

+1
Elena
Elena
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Yes, maybe so.

+1
Cheesy
Cheesy
1 month ago
Reply to  dontiti

Oh my god, this is so cheesy and lame……stop watching so many Hollywood movies!!!

0
Jenny
Jenny
1 month ago

Sajid and Elia, and those that had known Ali, John and Juan Pablo, this must be a very difficult time for them – since the incident happened back in February. I think that Sajid has been really brave and I hope that he remains strong and gets all the help and support he needs to bring some closure. Respect to Sajid, Elia and the team of people who help and support. God Bless and Rest in Peace Ali, John and Juan Pablo

+5
Ghzanfar
Ghzanfar
1 month ago

Hold on everybody. There shouldn’t be any criticism on Elia and Sajid’s summit. Throughout their campaign, they have been posting that they are going up to find the bodies and find answers. That is probably what they have already achieved. Now, they can’t just pick the bodies up themselves and retrieve. So, what do they do? Just return from there? What would be the point of that? It’s rather good that they summitted, to pay tribute to the fallen and complete their mission. That is a better closing to a story unfinished 5 months ago. That’s not all logical, there… Read more »

Lily
Lily
1 month ago
Reply to  Ghzanfar

I agree! Sajid wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and therefore every big summit counts. I really don’t know what people expect this team of 3 people to do considering it seems Sajid got little support. Elia said he financed the mission himself and therefore his goal as well as closure will be to make the best documentary he can to recoup those costs. I don’t see how so many people can label them as selfish when no one else has stepped up to do it.

+3
Federica Masante
Federica Masante
1 month ago
Reply to  Lily

Elia’s last message on his tracker says: Mission 100% accomplished. Mind blown.

0
Federica Masante
Federica Masante
1 month ago
Reply to  Ghzanfar

Very well said, I agree with every word you say.

+1
Twinkletoes
Twinkletoes
1 month ago

I was thinking that the snows are a fitting resting place for dead mountaineers… not to say that they should be left right there on the route to serve as handholds, but e.g. committing them to a crevasse or such seems OK, especially considering the effort and danger involved in moving a corpse… but if the next of kin have the means and the will to take the body down, that’s their business of course.

+1
Elena
Elena
1 month ago

Last post from Team Ali Sadpara: – “Sajid has single handedly retrieved the body from above bottleneck, carried down to C-4 and have secured the body there. He has offered fatih & recited verses of Holy Quran as per Islamic rituals and acc to wishes of his mother. Plans for retrieval will be plan as per consensus and keeping in view safety of the body and human lives”

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