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Hopes Fade for Climbers Missing on Pakistan’s ‘Savage Mountain’


FILE - A group of Pakistani soldiers carry their guns uphill along the K2 base camp trek in the Karakoram mountain range in Pakistan, Sept. 8, 2014.

Military helicopters in northern Pakistan Sunday continued searching for three climbers, including two foreigners, missing in their attempt to conquer the world’s second-tallest peak, K2, known as the “Savage Mountain.”

Organizers said that climbers John Snorri from Iceland, Juan Pablo Mohr from Chile and Muhammad Ali Sadpara from Pakistan, lost contact with base camp Friday during their ascent of the 8,611-meter mountain.

Snorri had tweeted before the start of the final push to the top of the mountain.

Karrar Haidri, a spokesman for the Alpine Club of Pakistan, told VOA the base camp stopped receiving signals from the climbers after they reached 8,000 meters. The search and rescue mission was launched on Saturday but so far it has not located the missing men, he said.

Haidri said that two experienced Pakistani rock climbers were also looking for the missing men on foot.

On Saturday, Iceland’s foreign minister, Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, spoke by phone to his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, about the missing Icelandic mountaineer and his partners.

A statement issued by Pakistan after the call said Qureshi apprised Thórdarson of the search and rescue mission. “He reassured that Pakistan will spare no effort and will extend all possible support in this regard,” the statement quoted Qureshi as saying.

Nazir Sabir, a veteran Pakistani climber who successfully scaled K2, said there was little hope of finding the climbers alive.

“We have all been praying but sadly it looks like not much hope of their survival. Above 8,000 meters on K2 and that too in winter there are very little chances of survival for any human being for more than 10 hours,” Sabir said. “Wind chill freezes you within hours if you are not in action,” he added.

News of the missing climbers came the same day a Bulgarian alpinist, Atanas Skatov, was confirmed to have died on K2.

Skatov, 42, reportedly fell from about 7,400 meters. He was the second climber to die on K2 this year, after a renowned Spanish climber, Sergi Mingote, fell to his death last month while descending the mountain.

Russian-American Alex Goldfarb, a Harvard professor, lost his life in January on a nearby mountain during an acclimatizing mission.

Last month, a 10-member team of Nepali climbers made history when they became the first to conquer K2 in winter.

Located in the Karakoram range along the Chinese border, K2 was the last of the world’s 14 tallest mountains higher than 8,000 meters to be climbed in winter.

This winter, an around 50 mountaineers converged on the peak, an unprecedented number.

K2 is about 200 meters shorter than Nepal’s Mount Everest, which is the world’s tallest peak and part of the Himalayan range.

International climbers dub K2 as the “Savage Mountain” because they say summit winds reach hurricane force and still-air temperatures are well below -65 degrees Celsius.

About one person dies on K2 for every four who reach the summit, which mountaineers say is “technically hardest” of the 14 tallest mountains in the world.

“More than 6,500 people have climbed Everest while only 337 have conquered K2 to date,” said Sabir, who also successfully scaled Mount Everest.