Sajid Sadpara Returns to K2 Once Again

K2 has been particularly cruel to young Sajid Sadpara. It let him live, but it took his beloved father from him. It also shattered his soul and somehow condemned him to return to K2, time after time, to try to make peace with what happened.

The winter 2021 tragedy

Early last year, Sajid was on K2 with his father Muhammad Ali Sadpara, John Snorri of Iceland, and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile, hoping to summit. A Nepali team had bagged the first winter ascent some days before, but that only reinforced their will to succeed.

This was Snorri’s second attempt on Winter K2, and he was determined. He was not happy with the competition that had developed among teams. The Sadparas, acting as guides, wanted to summit for themselves, for their partner, and for their country. Mohr was a true adventurer whose climbing partner, Sergi Mingote, had died in an accident the same day that the Nepalis reached the summit. Snorri, Mohr, and the Sadparas were all willing to take risks, including climbing during a very short window that opened on February 5, 2021.

Well above Camp 3, the elder Sadpara told his son to turn around. That saved Sajid’s life. None of the others returned.

Sajid’s return in summer

Sajid Sadpara, a two-time K2 summiter, and son of Muhammad Ali Sadpara.

 

Months later, summer climbers on K2 spotted the frozen bodies of the three missing climbers. Sajid was also on the mountain, keeping the promise he’d made to his family to find his father. He reached the summit and on the way down, he stopped by Ali’s remains. He wanted to bury his father.

Other climbers were also present, including Sherpa guides and porters, and even a film crew with Sajid. But when the moment came, he alone extracted his father from the ice and lowered him down from the Bottleneck.

“Everybody left me,” Sajid told ExplorersWeb through his communication team. (He is not fluent in English.) “But Inshallah, God sent an angel who approached from heights of K2.”

Sajid was referring to Hugo Ayaviri of Bolivia, an IFGMA guide and one of just two men who climbed K2 without oxygen that season. That is why he was also in the last group to descend when he found the young Pakistani. Ayaviri was with another no-O2 climber, Nils Jespers.  The exhausted Jespers continued down, but somehow, the Bolivian found the strength to stop and help Sajid with his sad task.

Together, they took the body to Camp 4 and buried him nearby in deep snow. “My family and I are eternally grateful to him,” Sadpara says.

The spot where Sajid buried Ali Sadpara. Photo: Sajid Sadpara

Knocked down and back on his feet

Afterward, Sajid became a celebrity in Pakistan. He was decorated and praised. But as the son of a legend, high expectations piled on him. International expeditions wanted him on their team, from Marc Batard on Everest to Alex Txikon attempting winter Manaslu. Txikon had already bagged the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat with his father Ali.

Yet few can endure such pressure and repeated trauma. Sajid broke down at the beginning of his fall Everest expedition. He aborted the climb and went back to his family for some rest, peace, and long-postponed mourning.

Sajid Sadpara, at home in the mountains. Photo: Sajid Sadpara

 

By this spring, Sajid Sadpara had reportedly recovered and was keen to go back to the mountains. He wanted to form an all-Balti expedition to Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, and Gasherbrum I and II, but that didn’t work out. Besides, Sajid still has unfinished business on K2.

Back to finish the mission – with some friends

“[Last year] I couldn’t move John’s body due to lack of time and support,” Sajid told ExplorersWeb. “Now I’m happy fulfill my duty as John’s teammate.”

Yet it is far from clear whether moving Snorri’s remains will be possible. Extracting anything from the ice at that altitude is excruciatingly laborious and is only suitable for a big, strong group with plenty of time.

“It’s going to be quite challenging…but I am motivated and hopefully, this time I will have a team to support me,” Sadpara said.

There are no details yet about Sajid’s local team, although he did reconnect with Stefi Troguet of Andorra. The mountaineer of the permanent red-lipstick smile is back in Pakistan to climb K2 and Broad Peak without supplementary O2.

Troguet had climbed Nanga Parbat with Ali Sadpara and was devastated by his loss. Troguet is currently a member of the Elite Exped team, led by Nirmal Purja and Mingma David Sherpa. She told ExplorersWeb that Sajid’s team approached Elite and asked them to join forces. The Kathmandu-based company agreed. Troguet herself won’t be involved in any recovery operation, but at least she will be nearby for moral support.

Sajid Sadpara and Stefi Troguet at Skardu’s airport yesterday. Photo: Sajid Sadpara

Angela Benavides is a journalist specialised on high-altitude mountaineer and expedition news working with ExplorersWeb.com.

Angela Benavides 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 national and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporates, press manager and communication executive, radio reporter and anchorwoman, etc. Experience in Education: Researcher at Spain’s National University for Distance Learning on the European Commission-funded ECO Learning Project; experience in teaching ELE (Spanish as a Second Language) and transcultural training for expats living in Spain.

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Hussain
Hussain
16 days ago

What really happened last winter and last summer high on K2? Anyone with half a brain knows a frozen body cannot be single handedly carried / dragged across the Bottleneck and/or lowered by one person. Why aren’t those who were there talking about it and telling the truth? The layers of this story are incredibly screwed up. From the camp 3 fiasco in winter, the giant crevasse and lack of transparency about it, to the circumstances surrounding the the loss of life, last summer’s ‘recovery’, etc. I hope someone finds the courage to tell the truth one day.