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K2 Winter – Rescuers refuse to quit: is it worth it?

Helicopters have scanned the mountain for three days on high-risk flights, with the pilots forcing their helicopters beyond their usual altitude roof to a whopping 7,800m. On several occasions, climbers from Base Camp joined them to help search and to shoot photos for later study.

All their efforts have yielded no trace of the missing climbers.

[…] searchers are working with Iceland’s Space Agency to review high-resolution satellite imagery in order to closely analyze the higher elevations of K2 despite the bad weather.

They have also obtained data from the devices that the climbers carried: John Snorri’s Thuraya satellite phone, JP Mohr’s Inmarsat, and their Garmin InReach trackers.

It is unknown whether such data have proved useful in any way.

The tracking signals from the InReach devices, for instance, have shown no significant results, according to RaceTracker.

English translation of the text in the right-hand sidebar:

Juan Pablo Mohr started the summit push on February 4 at 4:02h from waypoint marked as “Lower C3” at 6,967m. At 10:58h and after gaining 365 vertical metres, he switched his tracker off. Then he switched it on again, with a new signal sent at 11:05h, just some metres away from the previous signal. The device sent two more location points: the last one was sent four minutes later at 7,276m, with batteries at a “Normal” level of charge.

John Snorri set off 30 minutes later than Mohr: at 4:29h from 6,542m. At 14:33h, he passed by 7,298m, nearly at the same point where JP had sent his last signal three and a half hours before. He kept climbing until the last location point sent from his device, at 3:15h on February 5, and at 7,823m high. His InReach registered “Low battery”. has shared the SAR satellite images of the mountain. As the site suggests, it’s unlikely that these will help locate the climbers, either.

Finally, the rescue coordination team says that helicopter searches will resume as soon as the weather improves and that Ali Porik of Jasmine Tours is keeping open the Base Camp that he outfitted for John Snorri. There also remain four Pakistani climbers who were reportedly searching every day, until the fierce weather pushed them back to their tents. It is unclear whether any of them is currently in Camp 1.

Meanwhile, the big Seven Summit Treks group has left Base Camp, some by helicopter, others on foot to Skardu, led by Chhang Dawa Sherpa.

In the end, the question remains, whether future efforts made by helicopter pilots and the brave climbers are worth it. As the region’s Minister of Tourism noted yesterday, “it’s also important to accept that their chances of survival are evaporating.”

ExplorersWeb readers have cited a recent interview (in Urdu), below translated with Pakistani climbing legend Nazir Sabir, who firmly dismisses all false hopes.

Nazeer Sabir shares the details of Ali Sadpara and his companions. That Ali Sadpara go on K2 for money, John Snorri pays him to climb on K2. What mistake was made by Ali Sadpara and his team? Ali Sadpara is alive or dead? There are NO chances, army should stop operation.

Some readers were keen enough to translate the highlights of the interview, in an exciting (and highly educated) debate after yesterday’s K2 story.

Below, part of the interview, translated by reader Farukh Ali, in which Sabir discusses the missing climbers.

Q: People are waiting for a miracle right now. What are the survival chances for the whole team?

A: I was interviewed by VOA 3 days ago and I told them very clearly that their chances of survival (provided they haven’t gotten into an avalanche), without activity above 8,000m, is maximum 10 hours. After 10 hours, you will be frozen.

Q: Some of Ali’s relatives are still hopeful that he would be alive. What would you say to that?

A: It’s total madness, and I feel so sorry for the families. If Sajid is saying this, then there’s something wrong with him. We can expect this from someone who has never seen a mountain in his whole life.

In winter, above 8,000m nobody can survive more than 10 hours, even with oxygen. One oxygen cylinder at 2 psi only lasts 15 hours. According to Sajid, they had just one oxygen cylinder.

Q: What are the chances of finding the dead bodies on K2?

A: If they didn’t fall or meet an avalanche, people who climb in summer will probably see their bodies.

Source: Angela Benavides – EXPLORERSWEB