British Climber Dies on Broad Peak

While all the attention focused yesterday on the record number of summits in a single day on K2, a series of dramatic and still unclear events occurred on neighboring Broad Peak.

Broad Peak’s upper section. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli

Lack of official statement

Yesterday we reported that a Romanian was in serious condition and that something unspecified had happened to a British climber. What we know of both cases is only what a few climbers have reported on their own.

It turns out that the British man suffered a fatal fall, according to Francois Cazzanelli of Italy, who witnessed the event.

The names of neither the British victim nor the Romanian have been revealed. There has still been no official statement from any of the agencies about what is apparently the second fatality on Broad Peak this season.

Broad Peak. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli

Cazzanelli’s report

Based on the information provided by Francois Cazzanelli and the home team of a Chilean group, we know the following:

On the night of July 19, 2022, Italian mountaineer Francois Cazzanelli prepared to leave for the summit of Broad Peak. At midnight (July 19-20) he and Benjamin Vedrines began to climb from Broad Peak Base Camp at 4,950m. Vedrines went much faster — he later set a speed record of 7 hours 28 minutes. Soon, Cazzanelli was on his own.

route map of camps on Broad Peak

The camps on Broad Peak. Photo: Marco Camandona

 

Above 7,500m, Cazzanelli met his companions, Pietro Picco and Marco Camandona, who had summited the day before and were descending. Cazzanelli also crossed paths with Denis Urubko, who had also summited Broad Peak in 14 hours 40 minutes.

Pietro Picco on the summit of Broad Peak. Photo: Pietro Picco

 

Cazzanelli meets the British climber

After 12 hours of climbing, at around noon, Cazzanelli reached the 8,035m foresummit of Broad Peak. From there, at his good pace, he was only 30 minutes away from the actual summit. This was Cazzanelli’s first experience on Broad Peak. He was climbing independently, carrying his own gear, and not using supplementary O2.

Here, he crossed paths with a British climber on his way down. As they passed each other, Cazzanelli looked back and saw the Brit suddenly lose his balance in the narrow passageway, then fall, crashing into the wall.

footprints in snow leading to final sharp summit ridge of Broad Peak

A dangerous section near the summit of Broad Peak. Photo: Pietro Picco

 

Cazzanelli leaned out in case he could see the Englishman. There was no trace of him. After an hour, Cazanelli called teammate Emrik Favre at Base Camp. Favre advised Cazzanelli, “Get down immediately!”

Cazzanelli managed to descend safely. Before reaching Camp 3, he noticed traces of the impact of the British man’s body made in the snow. Pietro Picco was waiting for him at Camp 3. There, both spent the night, descending the rest of the way the following morning.

Climbers in high camp on Broad Peak, in yellow jacket

Francois Cazzanelli. Photo: Francois Cazzanelli

 

Rescue of Romanian climber in progress

Several climbers also reported on the Romanian climber in urgent need of evacuation from Broad Peak. The rescue is ongoing at the moment. Several mountaineers, mostly Chileans, are involved.

On July 21, Israfil Ashurli of Azerbaijan, along with other climbers, were on the upper section of Broad Peak, on their way to the summit. At 7,700-7,800m, Ashurli met the Romanian climber, known only as George, who was in a “moribund” (comatose?) state.

At that moment Ashurli decided to abort his summit attempt and lowered the man to 7,300m. Here, several climbers from Chile, Poland, and Russia had climbed from Camp 3 to help, also aborting their summit attempt.

 

A cluster of mountaineers pitch in to lower an ailing climber

A group helps the Romanian climber on Broad Peak. Photo: Israfil Ashurli

 

No helicopter rescue

The rescuers are doing everything possible to lower the Romanian down to Base Camp. The home team of the Chileans has just reported that the climbers started their descent from Camp 2 to Base Camp about five hours ago. Given that darkness will soon fall on Pakistan and that they are dealing with a climber who can’t help himself, “we expect that the day will be really long,” the Chilean home team commented.

Israfil Ashurli summits

Israfil Ashurli commented that all the other climbers were going down. Ashurli spent last night at 7,000m and said he was alone on the mountain. After his part in the rescue, he attempted the summit of Broad Peak again today. He successfully reached it at 12:43 pm.

Israfil Ashurli. Photo: Israfil Ashurli

 

K2 – summit crowds

Yesterday we wrote about the massive number of clients, guides, Sherpas, and porters at the summit of K2. Alan Arnette reported that 141 people made the summit. Almost half of them were Sherpa and Pakistani support.

In the first 40 years of the climbing history of K2, fewer people summited than summited yesterday, in a single day.

More teams, including some independent groups, will try to summit K2 in the next few days.

K2 soaring above a sea of clouds and lesser peaks.

K2 soars above a sea of clouds and lesser peaks. Photo: K2 Treks+Tours

 

No O2, but a Sherpa behind with emergency oxygen

Today, Flor Cuenca of Peru contacted ExplorersWeb from K2 Base Camp to say that her summit group reached Camp 4 but they decided to hold off on their final push for a few days because they needed a little more acclimatization. They had spent three nights at Camp 3 at 7,400m. They spent two hours at C4, then descended.

“In a couple of days, we will push for the summit,” says Cuenca. Her group is climbing on their own, carrying their own gear.

“Very few climbers go without supplemental oxygen and without a personal porter,” she added. “Of course, yesterday some reached the summit without O2, but they went with the support of a Sherpa or a porter who went behind them with oxygen, in case something happened.”

Night photo of K2, with skyfull of stars

K2 pierces the starry night sky. Photo: Luis Miguel Soriano

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law.

Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.