K2: Pakistani Porter Dies at the Bottleneck

Mohammad Hassan of Tissar, a Pakistani high-altitude porter with Lela Peak Expedition, died when a piece of serac fell at the Bottleneck (8,200m) early today. The accident took place before many climbers reached that spot. Some retreated after they saw the accident. Others just went on.

A climber who was pushing for the summit of K2 at the same time told his home team that a chunk of serac fell at around 2:30 am and somehow killed Hassan. It is unclear whether the ice struck him or whether it triggered a small avalanche that swept him fatally down, as some reports suggest.

A supporting sherpa was below the climber, at the beginning of the Bottleneck, when the accident occurred. Some climbers just went on, scrambling over the debris. Others present said that a huge, seven-hour-long traffic jam took place after the accident.

8K posted a video on Instagram showing the crowds on the upper slopes:

It is difficult to tell who was where when the accident occurred. Yesterday’s summit push involved nearly 200 climbers. They left Camp 3 at different times, stretched out between 6 pm and midnight. Lucy Westlake of the U.S., who was attempting to become the youngest woman to summit K2 (she’s 19), turned around at 2:45 am from 8,050m, shortly before the Bottleneck.

Some teams have reported a large number of summits, while others noted that some of their members retreated because of bad weather or conditions. It was only later in the day that word of a casualty began to circulate. It took several hours before sources confirmed the name of the victim and the team he worked for.

Climbers going down

Meanwhile, the climbers who summited K2 are slowly going down. There is little information about how they are doing. Lakpa Sherpa of 8K Expeditions confirmed that 26 clients, porters, and sherpas summited today. Sakhawat Hussain of Summit Karakoram (associated with 8K in Pakistan) noted that their team intends to spend the night in Camp 2, although the guides may proceed all the way down to Base Camp. There may not be enough tents for them in Camp 2.

Mingma G of Imagine Nepal confirmed that there are no tents in Camp 4. Some teams, including his, have instead set up a higher-than-usual Camp 3. Imagine Nepal’s is 300 meters above the usual location, sheltered under an ice block.

According to her tracker, Kristin Harila is now below Camp 1. She should reach Base Camp soon.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering 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.