More Drama on K2: Imtiaz and Akbar Refuse to Leave

The search operation on K2 remains confusing, to say the least. According to Dawa Sherpa and sources in Pakistan, Imtiaz Hussain and Akbar Ali — relatives of Ali Sadpara — have refused to retreat to Base Camp and they remain on the mountain, despite the bad weather. At the moment, it is unclear whether they are still in Camp 1 or have moved further up, as some sources suggested.

The experienced pair flew to K2 by helicopter two days ago and climbed immediately to Camp 1, with plans to hurry up K2 in time to locate the three missing climbers. They have oxygen with them but they are not acclimatized, so it is unlikely that even in the best weather, they could reach anywhere near the altitude where Ali Sadpara and his two companions disappeared.

Nor is it likely that a ground search would find anything when helicopters drew a blank despite three days of searching. Though well-intentioned, if they do indeed decide to proceed upward, they risk worsening the tragedy by undertaking a highly dangerous mission where the chances of helping are now, alas, virtually nil.

To make things worse, the Seven Summit Treks team is heading home tomorrow. Jasmine Tours and John Snorri’s home team have arranged for Snorri’s kitchen crew to remain at the foot of the mountain for a few more days, to support and communicate with Imtiaz and Akbar. But if they run into trouble, there will be no potential rescuers in place.

Meanwhile, rescue coordinator Vanessa O’Brien has confirmed that they are gathering information from the missing climbers’ satellite phones and that they will share an official release soon. Hopefully, this will offer some reliable information amid the mess of rumors, contradictory versions, fake news, and baseless comments which can only add more pain to the already bitter end of this K2 winter expedition.