Broad Peak: A Surprise Summit, and Details on the Fatal Accident

Bucking this season’s poor communications, Giuseppe Vidoni of Italy and Nicolas Jean of France have surprised everyone with a complete report about their July 4 summit of Broad Peak. They reached it without supplementary O2, ahead of everyone else, and traversed part of the summit ridge without fixed ropes.

A triumphant Giuseppe Vidoni on Broad Peak’s summit.

 

Vidoni and Jean were the only two in a group of four who summited from Camp 3. Their team included another Italian, Tiziano Moia, and Benjamin Vedrines of France. At the time, the route was not fixed from C3 and no trail was broken.

“We started at about 4:30 am from C3, taking turns opening the trail on not-so-difficult terrain, except for some open crevasses,” Vidoni said.

The bare rock at the beginning of the summit ridge shows that Broad Peak is quite dry this season. Photo: Giuseppe Vidoni

 

At the col, Moia and Vedrines turned around while Vidoni and Jean continued along the summit ridge.

“Soon we came across a Grade III rock-climbing section at 7,800m, which with heavy boots and crampons, is not exactly trivial,” Vidoni noted. “From there, except for a few passages, the ridge is easier, with ups and downs. But it was longer than I imagined and it tired us a lot…Finally, we both reached the top at about 16:15 local time.”

Summit selfie. Photo: Giuseppe Vidoni

 

The climbers started down carefully but swiftly and managed to reach the col with daylight remaining.

“From that point, it was just a matter of dragging ourselves down to the tents at C3 while enjoying a beautiful sunset.”

Sadpara’s fatal accident

The Furtenbach Adventures team also set off for the summit on Monday July 4.  But they left in the evening, aiming to reach the top early Tuesday morning, according to team guide Ulises Corvalan.

The Furtenbach team was divided into two groups, those with and without O2. Ahead of them, Sherpas fixed ropes to the col and part of the ridge. Unfortunately, the weather was not as good as the day before, with snow and low visibility. They reached a point where the ropes ended. Here, they stopped to wait for the rope fixers. Right behind them came two UK climbers and a Pakistani from another team.

The place where the ropes ended and Sharif Sadpara’s accident took place. Photo: Michael Lutz/Instagram

 

“In a second, the place where the Pakistani climber [Sharif Sadpara] was sitting down collapsed and disappeared,” Corvalan wrote.

Team member Michael Lutz, who was in the no-O2 group, was just next to the Pakistani.

“We sat down in the snow and then it happened: Just behind me, a Pakistani climber fell to his death through a snow [cornice] that broke,” Lutz recalled. “He walked behind me to check the status of the rope, and as he put his hand loosely on my shoulder, he fell. Needless to say, all of us retreated afterward. The summit was in sight, with another one to two hours to go.”

Corvalan explained the decision to turn around. “The altimeter read 8,019m, we couldn’t see anything, the summit was at least one more hour ahead, and the group was really tired, [especially] those who had been climbing without O2 for 12 hours. The group was shocked by what happened to the Pakistani climber. It was time to retreat.”

Ulises Corvalan during the summit push on Broad Peak. Photo: Ulises Corvalan

 

None of the Furtenbach climbers believed that there was any chance that the Pakistani climber could have survived the fall. Nor did any person there try to rescue the vanished climber. This contradicts later reports in the local press. Nevertheless, it is not possible to know exactly what happened from the details shared so far.

A tricky summit

Broad Peak provides a rather straightforward climb until the col. From there, a long, exhausting summit ridge leads to several points. These various knobs have often confused climbers, who turned back before reaching the final, highest point. You can read more about this from Eberhard Jurgalski and his team at 8000ers.com.

Vidoni’s comments about wide crevasses before the col and the rocky section at the beginning of the ridge shows that the mountain is drier than usual this year.

Somewhere on the summit ridge.Photo: G. Vidoni

Worsening weather

After Monday’s summits, the weather worsened, forcing teams to remain low and wait. Some climbers may return to Broad Peak as soon as conditions improve. Others, especially those aiming to do both Broad Peak and K2, may attempt the juicier trophy first. They have already good acclimatization.

The Furtenbach group, for example, plans no further attempts on Broad Peak for the moment. Instead, they are now moving on to K2 as soon as weather improves, Lukas Furtenbach told ExplorersWeb.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides is a college-graduated journalist specializing in high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.