Goldfarb and Hungarian Zoltan Szlanko planned to acclimatize on 6,209 m Pastore Peak before launching a fast, alpine-style ascent of Broad Peak, with no high-altitude porters, supplementary O2, or previously fixed ropes. Pastore had never been climbed in winter before.
Soon after starting the climb, the heavily crevassed terrain proved too hazardous for climbing instructor and mountain rescuer Szlanko, who turned around. Goldfarb chose to continue alone. On his last radio contact with BC, he stated that he planned to summit and then return by Saturday evening. But he failed to show up in BC, and after radio and satphone contact proved useless, a search and rescue operation began.
Helicopters departed Skardu today and picked up John Snorri and Sajid Sadpara, who had quickly volunteered to help, from K2 Base Camp. High winds aborted an initial flight, but on a subsequent pass after the winds had calmed, the pilots spotted rags of a tent. On a third and final flight, they saw Goldfarb’s body. Since his body was visible, he might have fallen off the mountain rather than into a crevasse, as had been feared.
The pair of Askari Aviation choppers have started from Skardu at 9:00 AM local time, 18th January. After picking up John Snorri Sigurjonsson and Sajid Sadpara, as well as the army liaison officer at K2 base camp, they made three flights to Pastore Peak.
During the second flight they have spotted the tracks of a tent somewhere on the mountain, the place not specified. The whole area around was full of crevasses, as well as the upper slopes. They have made photos of the site.
The pilot has gone up for a third flight to make a more detailed check on the area of the presumed campsite.
During this flight, unfortunately they discovered the lifeless body of Alex Goldfarb, who is presumed to have fallen off the mountain. At this moment there are no more details available for us about the circumstances.
We are deeply saddened by the news. Alex’s climbing partner, Zoltan is obviously devastated and shaken by the events. We are grateful to John Snorri Sigurjonsson, Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Sajid Sadpara, Asghar Ali Porik and everybody that has contributed to the search mission.
Source: Alan Arnette
“Two army helicopters and a team of mountaineers are taking part in the search operation,” Karar Haidri, a spokesman for the government-run Alpine Club of Pakistan told dpa.
American climber Alex Goldfarb was last seen with Hungarian climber Zoltan Szlanko at Pastore Peak, which is 6,209 meters above sea level. Goldfarb used a respite there to acclimate himself for an attempt of nearby Broad’s Peak, which is 8,047 meters tall.
Szlanko headed back down after the break.
John Snorri, who was at the K2 base camp for the winter expedition, volunteered to take part in the search operation along with a local mountaineer.
The search has produced no leads so far, he said.
“We are trying to get GPS [global positioning system] coordinates to trace Goldfarb,” Asghar Ali Porik, from the tour operating company that arranged the climb, told dpa.
He said a satellite phone company had refused share his location to third party.
Porik said that Goldfarb had equipment and food with him to survive the extreme weather conditions.
Renowned Spanish climber Sergio Mingote died while climbing K2 on January 16, the day Nepalese climbers made history with a successful winter attempt of K2’s summit.
Hundreds of mountaineers, most of them from Europe, try to scale peaks in Pakistan every summer, but only a few try during winter. Avalanches and bad weather have proved fatal in the past.
Alex’s son, Levi Goldfarb has written a heartfelt obituary about his father, Alex:
“Alex is a man who never gives up. He moved to America just after the crumble of the Soviet regime to begin working illegally in a plastic factory and selling his plasma for cash. In just over a decade, he earned 2 PhD’s and was a Professor of Medicine at Harvard. He went on to have a stunning academic career, publishing over 70 peer-reviewed publications and several books, the most recent of which was the first Critical Care Medicine book to include a chapter on COVID.
His bounding energy drew everyone close to him, and our house was the place to be on any given Friday night as guests—invited and spontaneous alike—crowded around the Shabbat table and enjoyed hot food and wine. Alex was always the star of the show: when he wasn’t sharing the latest jokes, he regaled us with tales of epic ascents, like the time he spent the night in a hastily-made igloo on his descent from Lenin Peak (7134 m) or when he saved the life of a man while ice climbing to the peak of Khan Tengri (7010 m). He always made time for interesting hobbies—most recently beekeeping—and kept in touch with friends from around the world.
Alex taught me to always strive to be better; he was constantly reading, researching, writing, and adventuring. No achievement was ever enough—he enjoyed the thrill of the chase. He taught me that a person’s true character shows in difficult circumstances: when the COVID pandemic first broke out, most people—myself included—preferred to stay home and keep themselves safe. Alex sought out the epicenter of the pandemic on the Eastern Seaboard—Elmhurst hospital—and drove there immediately to treat patients in need. He taught me to stand up for what I believe is right, and to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
If asked what his greatest achievement was, Alex would no doubt mention his family. We knew that he would do anything for us—we never had to worry, because he would shoulder any burden for those he loved. He was a great man, and I am proud to be his son. I hope I can one day be a fraction of the man he was.
Baruch Dayan Emet.”
Alex Goldfarb 1963 – 2021
Source: Alan Arnette