Nanga Parbat Rescue: Hardest Sections Ahead

Despite bad weather, rescuers are trying everything to rescue Asif Bhatti. Bhatti has been stranded on Nanga Parbat since Monday and Israfil Ashurli of Azerbaijan has been helping him to descend. Ashurli aborted his summit bid to help sick climbers in Camp 4 and refused to leave Bhatti behind, despite a coming storm.

On Wednesday, Ashurli dragged Bhatti from Camp 4 to Camp 3. Yesterday, he managed to make Camp 2 with his charge. Mohammed Yunis and Fazal Ali, members of Bhatti’s outfitter Bluesky, left Base Camp with oxygen and supplies. Previously, other porters had stopped in Camp 1 because of bad conditions. In the night, rescuers managed to reach Bhatti and Ashurli somewhere above Camp 2 and helped them into camp.

The hardest sections lie ahead

Today, the Pakistani climbers are slowly bringing Bhatti down from Camp 2. He has been put on oxygen but has frostbitten hands and the weather is bad. Ahead, they face some of the most technical sections of the route: the Kinshoffer wall (a rocky, vertical section) and a long, icy couloir right below it.

“It’s definitely the most difficult area to descend,” Naila Kiani, who summited on June 26, told ExplorersWeb. “There are steep ice walls and the rope is too tight for rappelling.”

Bhatti and the porters started their descent some hours ago while Ashurli stopped at Camp 2 for some rest. He has not slept in three days.

Kiani is with Sajid Sadpara of Pakistan and Hugo Ayaviri of Bolivia at the Skardu airport. They are waiting to fly to Nanga Parbat as soon as conditions allow.

“We will go to Base Camp as part of a backup plan,” Kiani said. “If Asif Bhatti gets stuck and the two rescuers struggle to bring him down from the ice walls, then Hugo [Ayaviri] and Sajid [Sadpara] will go up. Hugo [Ayaviri] is very experienced with such rescues.”

Ayaviri is an IFMGA-certified rescuer. “Hugo [Ayaviri] helped me retrieve the body of my father on K2,” Sadpara noted.

Meanwhile, Kiani will remain in Base Camp coordinating communications. She is in contact with Ashurli.

Kiani's selfie shows her sitting on a sofa, and Ayaviri and Sajid behind, giving a thumbs-up.

Ayaviri, Sadpara, and Kiani at the airport. Photo: Naila Kiani


Even if conditions improve significantly, they could not be dropped any higher than Camp 1 because of the steep terrain. Currently, the weather makes a long-line operation impossible.

Other climbers safely down

The Polish climbers on Nanga Parbat managed to reach Base Camp last night. Ali Olszanski, Piotr Krzyzowski, Waldemar Kowalewski, Jarosław Lukaszewski, and Mariusz Szczechowicz are all safe.

Lukaszewski and Szczechowicz are suffering from frostbite, but the entire team has been able to leave Base Camp this morning. They could not retrieve the body of their deceased companion, Pawel Kopec, who perished in Camp 4 on Monday.

Tarcisio Bello, Valerio Annovazzi, and Juan Pablo Toro of Argentina are also back, Carlos Garranzo told ExplorersWeb.

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.