K2’s Longest Night: What We Know

At 2 am in Pakistan, there is still no news of John Snorri, Ali Sadpar,a and Juan Pablo Mohr. Sajid Sadpara is in Camp 3, but has seen no trace of their headlamps, 14 hours after they separated.

It is not possible to know what may have happened since they parted ways at the Bottleneck. We don’t know about the state of fixed ropes, the ice conditions under the Great Serac or the risk of slab avalanches on the Shoulder. We do not know if they might have got lost in the dark on the way down, or if they are simply exhausted and moving down slowly or trying to get shelter.

What we do know is that dawn will come in less than four hours. We also know that they are all strong, skilled climbers. Ali, in particular, is the most experienced winter 8,000m climber on the expedition.

We know that the temperatures were extremely cold even for winter K2, and that winds will increase tomorrow, mostly in the afternoon, as the jet stream descends on the mountain.

We know, therefore, that 22-year-old Sajid Sadpara may soon have to make the hardest call of his life and go down, with or without his father and his climbing partners.

Finally, we know that if there is someone in Base Camp fit enough to go up and meet Sajid along the route and help him make it down, that person should start preparing his backpack.