Nardi and Ballard Missing on Nanga Parbat

Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard have not been heard from since Sunday, when they set off toward the Mummery Spur on Nanga Parbat. Their last report was from about 6,300m. Today, their Base Camp team was worried enough to call in a helicopter rescue. However, a flare-up of the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan has grounded all aircraft in that region. The Italian government, on behalf of Daniele Nardi, worked diplomatic channels and managed to get exceptional permission for a helicopter to fly from Skardu tomorrow.

There were rumors of an SOS call to the Kazakh-Russian-Kyrgyz team on K2 to assist in the rescue. However, according to Nardi’s team, this is not an option because K2 airspace is now restricted, and a helicopter transfer would be impossible. Currently, night has fallen on the Karakorum, and the Base Camp team can do nothing but scan the wall for moving headlamps.

To deal with all the rumors buzzing over social media for the last two days, Nardi’s team has just published a long report on his Facebook page. Here it is, slightly edited for grammar:


Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard are on Nanga Parbat. There’s no news from them since Sunday, neither over satphone nor the radio connected to their Base Camp, where a liaison officer and two cooks await.

Concern has grown since yesterday. Everything is ready for a rescue operation.

This morning at 6.30am, during our first communication with Base Camp, the crew reported that they were watching all possible escape routes on the mountain, including the Kinshoffer route, looking for the climbers descending. No movement has been observed so far.

A helicopter was called from the Pakistani rescue patrol… and in a few hours all the bureaucratic procedures had been coordinated. At 9:30am CET (1:30pm in Pakistan),  the helicopter was ready to take off from Skardu, a 40-minute flight from the Base Camp of Nanga Parbat on the Diamir side. The Pakistani agency has also engaged Ali Sadpara, a Pakistani mountaineer who climbed Nanga Parbat in winter two years ago, to support the pilots during the reconnaissance and in the eventual rescue action.

Unfortunately, due to a national emergency linked to the conflict between Pakistan and India, the Pakistani airspace was closed and the helicopter on standby in Skardu could not take off.

Pakistani  Karim Hayat, who was part of the expedition until he called his bid off at the end of January, has jumped to the rescue and will presumably reach Base Camp tomorrow evening.

The Italian Ambassador, alerted last night, has called the British embassy, and together they asked the Government of Pakistan to send the helicopter to the Base Camp. Authorization has been granted this evening but, unfortunately, the light was too poor to fly, so the air search operation has been re-scheduled for tomorrow morning. 

Night on Nanga Parbat.


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