K2: Helicopters Search Abruzzi Route, Sajid Sadpara Down to Camp 1

Despite difficult conditions, helicopters from Pakistan’s Army Aviation have completed a search flight up to 7,000m along the Abruzzi Spur route. However, they have not spotted the missing climbers. But there is some good news: Sajid Sadpara has arrived at Camp 1.

Sajid will now descend to Advanced Base Camp where Chhang Dawa has sent Sherpas Temba Bhote and Phurbu Kusang to help. They will prepare food and hot water for Sajid and get ready to help him down if required. Dawa must also take care of his own team members. The condition of a number of Sherpas and climbers remains unknown.

Tamara Lunger has finally reached Base Camp. She is in good health but is worried sick by the lack of news from those high above.

Tamara Lunger near K2 Base Camp. Photo: Tamara Lunger


Meanwhile, families and friends in Iceland (where the Foreign Affairs Minister is involved), Pakistan (where Ali’s friends are coordinating operations from Lahore), and Chile are working hard. They maintain hope that John Snorri, JP Mohr, and Ali Sadpara, as well as Sajid Sadpara, might yet make it off K2.

The best bet is to locate the climbers through their satellite phone signal, which can be tracked even when the device is off. Arrangements have been made to obtain the necessary permits with Pakistan’s Military Authorities. These permissions are required for telecommunications company Thuraya Pakistan to disclose the information and results are expected at any moment.

ExWeb’s expert Jacek Teler is analyzing the sparse information available in an effort to understand what might have happened to the missing climbers. They departed from Camp 3 at close to midnight and according to Sajid, they were at 8,150m at 10 am on February 5. Therefore, they took two or two-and-a-half hours longer than the successful Nepali summit team to reach that spot.

“Only from Sajid can we learn whether each member used O2 and, if they did, how many canisters they had, how fast they dealt with the Bottleneck, and whether they had a return deadline,” Teler said. “At their estimated pace, they would probably have reached the summit in the dark.”

“Additionally, the great serac protects climbers from the wind, which hits them full-force after they finish traversing underneath,” Teler noted. Yesterday, the wind was supposed to progressively intensify in the afternoon and temperatures dropped lower than during the Nepali summit push.

Weather conditions are deteriorating on K2 today. Photo: Chhang Dawa Sherpa

“As I conclude, there are two options: If they turned back because of the wind (at around 2 or 3 pm yesterday) they should have returned to Camp 3 before midnight. But, if nothing prevented them from reaching the summit (low wind, enough oxygen, enough light etc), then they should descend to Camp 3 this morning. If they made it, their fate depends ONLY on themselves. Neither helicopters nor climbers on foot can help above Camp 3. Increasing winds are making the situation extremely dangerous.”