Ongoing Rescue On Nanga Parbat

The drama is ramping up on Nanga Parbat, where Polish climber Pawel Kopec died yesterday and Asif Bhatti is snowblind and unable to move under his own power. Despite unstable weather, helicopters have made it to Base Camp and are waiting for permission to drop climbers as high on the mountain as possible. Yet Bhatti’s best hope may be Israfil Ashurli of Azerbaijan and a group of Italian climbers. That group rushed to help yesterday and joined the sick climber in Camp 4. Today they will help him down as far as possible.

Sources have not yet named the Italians but an Italian group on the mountain included Marco Conrfortola and Mario Vielmo. Confortola’s home team reported that he attempted to reach the summit on Sunday but high winds forced him to turn around near the top and return to Camp 3. He hoped to launch a new summit attempt yesterday. It is likely that at least part of the Italian team had the same idea.

The rescue plan

The plan is to airlift climbers from Base Camp with a sling and drop them as high as possible. The original plan was to get them to Camp 2, but the terrain there is dangerous for long-line operations, Samson S. Sharaf (helping to coordinate the rescue) told ExplorersWeb. The best drop-off point might be Camp 3, but the operation is not without risk. At the time of writing, helicopter pilots just obtained permission to proceed.

Meanwhile, the climbers assisting Bhatti have left Camp 4 and are slowly descending. All going well, they will meet the rescue team dropped by the helicopters as they descend. The main obstacle, in addition to Bhatti’s sickness and the extended time at altitude, will be the weather; forecasts predict high winds.

Sharaf listed a couple of climbers planning to be airlifted up from Base Camp, Shah Daulat (part of Karakorum Expeditions’ rope-fixing team, who summited without supplementary O2 on June 26) and Mohammed Younus. Karakorum Expedition’s leader, Mirza Ali, is in Base Camp coordinating efforts and several other teams are willing to collaborate too.

Dhaulat holds a Pakistani flag on a snowy summit ridge.

File image of Shah Daulat on an unidentified summit. He reached the top of Nanga Parbat on June 26 without supplementary O2. Photo: Karakorum Expeditions


Asif Bhatti (45), a professor at Islamabad University, was part of a five-member team. However, his climbing partners halted at Camp 1 and he proceeded alone, following climbers from other groups, Dawn reports.

Bhatti showed symptoms of snowblindness on the descent from the summit and waited in Camp 4, where there is at least a tent pitched. The bigger teams have not set up Camp 4 this year and have launched their summit pushes from Camp 3, Mingma G told ExplorersWeb yesterday. From Camp 4, Bhatti asked for help by radio.

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.