Drama on Nanga Parbat: A Fatality and a Stranded Climber

The weather turned for the worse yesterday, creating a dire situation on Nanga Parbat. Polish climber Pawel Kopec has died of Acute Mountain Sickness at Camp 4, according to Polish media.

Yesterday, three Polish climbers summited Nanga Parbat, according to Wspinanie.pl: Piotr Krzyzowski, Pawel Kopec, and Waldemar Kowalewski. All climbed independently and without supplementary oxygen. They all reached the summit at different times of the afternoon. Krzyzowski reported high winds and rain at the summit. He made it back to Camp 3 at nearly midnight. Kowalewski reached the summit very late, past 2:30 pm, around the same time as Kopec.

Kocek climbed separately during the summit push. He and Waldemar Kowalewski descended from the summit together. Problems arose at 7,300m. Exhausted and dehydrated, Kopek eventually died.

Kowalewski was a regular client with Seven Summit Treks, so he was probably with the same outfitter on Nanga Parbat. SST led the largest summit group yesterday. One of its members, Uta Ibrahimi of Albania-Kosovo, was still descending today. Her tracker located her 500 meters above Base Camp at the time of posting this story.

Close shot of Piotr in K2 Base Camp, with a cap and blue-yellow jacket

Piotr Krzyzowski. Photo: Wspinanie.pl


Video frame showing Kowaleski in a snowy day on a snow slope, a head-lamp and hood on his gore-tex jacket.

Waldemar Kowalewski on Kangchenjunga in spring this year. Photo: Waldemar Kowaleski/Facebook


b/w pic of Pawel Kopec.

Pawel Kopec. Photo: Pawel Kopec/Facebook


Snowblind and stranded in bad weather

All pushes started from Camp 3 at 6,800m, which is a long way from the 8,126m summit. The worsening weather didn’t help. Reports suggest that Asif Bhatti is snowblind and stranded at 7,300m at Camp 4, the same place where Pawel Kopec died.

A rescue helicopter was unable to take off because of poor weather. Pilots will try again to reach Bhatti first thing tomorrow.

Asif Bhatti is a professor at Islamabad University and climbed Nanga Parbat in a local team led by Jabbar Bhatti. The team included Dr. Naveed, Saad Muhammad, and Faheem Pasha, The Frontier Post reported. Asif Bhatti attempted Broad Peak in 2021.

Others safely back down

Several teams are already back in Base Camp. 8K/Summit Karakoram team members Chris Warner, Chhiring Sherpa, and Pemba Sherpa made it back to Base Camp yesterday at 8 pm. Naila Kiani, climbing with Imagine Nepal, is also safely back after descending from Camp 3 today.

Marco Confortola and another Italian climber tried to top out yesterday but turned around short of the summit because of high winds. They retreated to Camp 3. Confortola told his home team he might try again today, depending on the weather. There have been no further updates since then.

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.