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Bid to Rescue Pair on Pakistan Peak to Start Saturday


FILE - In this undated image, Nanga Parbat is seen in northern Pakistan. Nanga Parbat is widely known as "Killer Mountain" because of the many climbers who have perished there.

Efforts to rescue a Polish man and a French woman stuck on a treacherous peak in northern Pakistan known to mountaineers as "Killer Mountain" are
set to begin on Saturday, officials said.

Tomasz Mackiewicz from Poland and Elisabeth Revol of France were attempting to ascend the 8,126-meter (26,660-foot) Nanga Parbat in Pakistan's Himalaya mountain range.

Four members from a team of Polish climbers attempting the first winter ascent of nearby K2, the world's second-highest mountain, will assist in the rescue operation after a Pakistan army helicopter picks them up from their base camp and flies them to Nanga Parbat.

"They will be brought from K2 to Nanga Parbat and then the operation will begin," Asghar Porik of Jasmine Tours told Reuters on Friday. Separately, a Pakistani tourism official, Iqbal Hussain, said the operation would begin Saturday.

Mackiewicz and Revol got stuck at the 7,400-meter mark, from where they used a satellite phone to call for help, a spokesman for the Alpine Club of Pakistan, Karrar Haidri, told Reuters.

Masha Gordon, who has coordinated a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the rescue operation, said Revol managed to bring Mackiewicz down to 7,280 meters and set him up in a tent to spend the night.

'She has no tent'

"Eli is in the process of descending down and has last communicated from 6,671 meters," Gordon said. "Though she has no tent, she is clearly lucid and is making progress on a descent to help get the rescue effort under way."

Janusz Majer, who helped prepare the Polish expedition team currently scaling K2, said that messages sent by Revol said Mackiewicz was suffering from snow blindness and frostbite.

"He hid himself in a crevasse to seek protection from wind. Tomasz in the past has spent a couple of nights above 7,000 meters, but with all the needed equipment," Majer said.

The crowdfunding campaign had raised about 62,500 euros ($75,000) by Friday evening, exceeding its target of 60,000 euros within several hours.

The Polish government said it would provide financial guarantees and support for the rescue operation.

Mackiewicz has made six previous attempts to scale Nanga Parbat in winter, where perceived temperatures can reach minus 60 degrees Celsius. The first successful winter ascent of the mountain was made as recently as February 2016.

Pakistan rivals Nepal for the number of peaks over 7,000 meters (23,000 feet).

In June, a Spanish man and an Argentinian perished in an avalanche while trying to scale Nanga Parbat.

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