Sajid Sadpara on his Return to K2 and What Happened Up There

Last week, we wrote how a number of climbers are planning to return to K2 to solve the mystery surrounding the disappearance of John Snorri, Ali Sadpara, and Juan Pablo Mohr. Oswald Rodrigo Pereira of Poland is one of them. Now others have revealed their search plans, most notably Sajid Sadpara, Ali Sadpara’s son.

Sajid has teamed up with Elia Saikaly and Saikaly’s usual partner, Pasang Kaji (PK) Sherpa. “We want to find out what happened to them and try our best to recover their remains,” the young Sadpara said today.

Sajid’s Version

Back in January, Ali and Sajid Sadpara were climbing with Iceland’s John Snorri, aiming to be the first team to summit K2 in winter. Elia Saikaly joined them later to film their ascent. At a press conference in Islamabad today, Sajid Sadpara gave a complete account of the events of last winter and provided new details. 

 “Although our team was small, we were very strong. My father was the only person there on K2 who had summited an 8,000m peak in winter. John Snorri was one of the few, along with Tamara Lunger and Mingma G, who had even previously tried K2 in winter.  

“In addition, John, myself, and my father had all summited K2 in summer. So we all knew this mountain, and John and my father knew winter. We felt strong and well acclimatized.

Sajid Sadpara at his press conference today.


“After several rotations and many bad weather days, it was time for our summit bid in early February. Chilean JP Mohr joined us at Camp 3.  At the base of the Bottleneck [past Camp 4], I started having problems with my oxygen regulator. 

“I couldn’t get a full breath and it seemed there were many issues with the oxygen, which is a problem because this is life-support equipment. When I could not get my oxygen to work, I motioned my father over. He suggested that I would get colder and slower if I could not get the system to work, so he suggested that I go back to Camp 3 and wait for them.

I waited. I worried. I walked around.”

“That is the last time I ever spoke to him. I waited. I worried. I walked around. I looked up to see if I could see them. I prayed to Allah. Time stood still and then time fast-forwarded. 

“Suddenly it was the very break of dawn. There was radio chatter, and it was all about getting down. Off the mountain. I waited longer. Everyone else headed down and still I waited. I waited until they shouted at me to come down and then I too started down the mountain.

“I don’t know what happened to them. That is why I am here now. It has been 4½ months. Of course, I know he is not alive. I was grateful to [those] who used technologies I wouldn’t begin to understand to look for them from afar. And now, it is my turn –- to go back and see for myself. To trace those last steps. 

“It is possible that all three summited or turned back before the summit and one of them got injured on the descent. Maybe bad weather came in and all three sought shelter. Maybe something worse. But speculation does not help.  My father is with Allah now. He is safe.

“I go only to find answers and to re-trace those last steps –- to see what he might have seen. To see if he left any signs for me to follow.  If there is anything he wants me to know. John kept a journal of all the hiding places he would go to bivouac if bad weather set in. He was meticulous about planning. 

“I will go and search all these places with Elia and Fazal Ali now. If I find them, that will be a bonus. If we summit, fine, if we do not, that is fine, too. The summit is not the goal. If I do not find my father, then I will place his plaque with pride at the Gilkey Memorial in honor of my father, whom I loved more than anything, who taught me mountaineering, and who is, to this day, one of the greatest, if not the greatest Pakistani mountaineers of all time.”

Sailkaly footing the bill

“I just couldn’t do nothing,” Saikaly wrote later today on social media. “These are our friends, these were our teammates, we were making a film about their winter ascent, we were supposed to be with them the night they disappeared with JP Mohr. We are likely alive because fate intervened and an oxygen mix-up forced PK and me back just below Camp 3. Ali, JP Mohr, and John never returned. Sajid survived.

The Canadian climber and filmmaker stated that he failed to obtain financial support, and Moira Akhmad told ExplorersWeb that Saikaly himself is financing the small team. It consists of just Elia, Sajid, PK Sherpa, Fazal Ali, Mosin (no surname provided), Aziz (no surname provided), and a small cooking crew.

Asghar Ali Porik from Jasmine Tours put the logistics together. “PK Sherpa moved mountains in Nepal to ensure we have all that we need,” noted Saikaly. “I’ve flipped my entire world and my finances upside-down, but I don’t care. I’ll clean the mess when I get home. It’s incredible what a few people can pull together with will and determination.”