Nanga Parbat: Help Approaches, Ashurli’s Heroism

It is already dark on Nanga Parbat and there is still no confirmation of the whereabouts of Israfil Ashurli of Azerbaijan and stricken climber Asif Bhatti of Pakistan. They planned to try and descend from Camp 3 to Camp 2, but the weather is very bad and so is Bhatti’s condition.

Yet further help is on the way: Fazal Ali and Mohammed Yunus have set off from Base Camp. Fazal Ali is in Camp 2, waiting for them, and Yunus is already above Camp 2, on his way to meet them.

Also, weather permitting, Sajid Sadpara and Hugo Ayaviri, who summited Nanga Parbat on June 26, will fly to Base Camp tomorrow. They are ready to go up on foot and help in the rescue. Recent summiter Naila Kiani will coordinate with them.

“They will go to Base Camp as backup because both of them are experienced rescuers,” Kiani told ExplorersWeb. “But it will only be possible if the weather allows the helicopters to fly.”

Nanga Parbat’s Base Camp is rather low so the helicopters might be able to fly at that altitude, but conditions are unstable.

Ashurli: rescue instead of summit

Meanwhile, we know more about what happened on July 3 at Camp 4 on Nanga Parbat, thanks to Russian climber Sergey Kofanov. He is a friend of Ashurli (they climbed Everest together in 2007) and is in contact with him via InReach.

“Israfil decided to cancel his climb and rescue others instead,” Kofanov told ExplorersWeb. “He planned his summit push on the 3rd of July, but as he reached Camp 4, he found two climbers in need of help.”

Kofanov said that one of the climbers was in a very bad condition: it was Pawel Kopec of Poland. “He literally died in Israfil’s hands.”

Dragging Bhatti down

“The other [Asif Bhatti] was snowblind. Israfil dragged him down to Camp 3, where they both got stuck due to bad weather,” Kofanov added.

Kofanov also asked Ashurli about the Italians who, according to preliminary reports, could have helped in the rescue as well. Ashurli’s reply text was: “Nope, they left us and descended to Base Camp.”

“Israfil Ashurli is a hero,” Naila Kiani said, echoing the feeling of all those involved. “He didn’t leave Asif behind, risking his own life with it.”

A new Inreach message came from Ashurli, shortly before midnight: “We are almost done with the most dangerous sections before Camp 2. Two Pakistani came to help us. Working on!”

A little later, word came that they reached Camp 2.

Waiting for news about other climbers

There is no news about the Polish, Italian and Argentinean climbers still on the mountain. Kiani said that according to her latest news, Tarsizio Bello was in Camp 2 waiting for climbing partners Valerio Annovazzi and Argentinean Juan Pablo Toro to go down from Camp 3.

Meanwhile, a Polish climber (named Mariusz, no surname provided) was sick in Camp 1. Late today, he made it back to Base Camp. She was waiting for news whether any of them had returned to Base Camp.

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.