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
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.
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.
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
John Snorri’s wife, Lina, contacted Sajid to ask if he’d be willing to retrieve her husband’s body from the mountain.
She wants to take her husband’s remains home to Iceland.
“[Last year] I couldn’t move John’s body due to lack of time and support,” Sajid told ExplorersWeb. “Now I’m happy to help Lina and at the same time, 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.
We are awaiting further details but can confirm that there was no summit push on K2 last night.
Grace Tseng and the Dolma Outdoor team are descending.
On Everest, Jost Kobusch has also delayed his last push up the West Ridge. The German climber reached Camp 3, at 6,450m on the West Shoulder, two days ago. He had planned to climb higher last night. At the last minute, he changed his plans.
Photographer Daniel Hug, who is waiting for Kobusch at the base of the mountain, explained that Kobusch has “strategically moved the ascent to February 28.”
It is not clear whether he intends to remain in Camp 3 in the meantime.
Climbers on K2 have spent the day hunkered down in Camp 3 because of rising winds. The wind came as no surprise.
Leader Nima Gyalzen says that it shouldn’t affect Thursday’s summit push.
Tomorrow, some will proceed to Camp 4, fixing as they go. Then they return for the night to Camp 3, from which the final summit push begins.
ExplorersWeb spoke with Sakahwat Hussain Sakhi, managing director of local outfitter Summit Karakoram. He is in constant contact with Base Camp and with Gyalzen on the mountain. Sakhi explained the team’s next moves.
Only six going up
Only six climbers will take part in the summit push.
Joining Nima Gyalzen and sole client Grace Tseng are Chhiring Sherpa, Dawa Sherpa, Furi Sherpa, and Ningma Dorje Tamang.
The other two members of the expedition will remain in Base Camp.
As for Tseng, she has counted on Gyalzen and his Nepal-based Dolma Outdoor to climb five 8,000’ers in the last two years.
As she did on Kangchenjunga, she hired the entire expedition. All the Sherpas traveled from Nepal to Pakistan on her behalf.
Despite her lack of experience and strong dependence on O2 and her guides, the young Taiwanese has endured weeks of privation in the harsh Karakoram winter. Her project seemed way too ambitious when the expedition reached the Baltoro Glacier, after weeks of delay because of various visa problems. But now she’s within one decent weather window of the summit of K2 in winter.
Camp 3 is at its usual summer location on the Shoulder, at around 7,300m, above the Black Pyramid.
This is a significant improvement compared to the C3 of some of the commercial clients who attempted K2 last winter. Back then, many of them were in a “lower” Camp 3. This meant an extremely long and arguably unrealistic summit push.
Camp 4: a key
If all goes according to plan, part of the team will fix the route as high as possible tomorrow. They will then return to Camp 3 for the night. Tseng will likely remain in C3 for one more day. The use of oxygen spares the climbers further rotations up and down the steep Abruzzi Spur.
Crucially, the fixing team will also establish a Camp 4, even though the climbers don’t usually sleep there. Typically, it’s at 8,000m, at the base of the Bottleneck.
“It will be useful both for the ascent and the descent,” Sakhi explained. “It gives a place to rest, melt snow for water, have some food, etc.”
A refuge at 8,000m stocked with supplies could have meant the difference between life and death last year for the three climbers who ventured beyond Camp 3 on the second summit push.
John Snorri, Ali Sadpara, and Juan Pablo Mohr never made it back. Their bodies were found during summer expeditions to K2, not far above the location of Camp 4.
Valentyn Sypavin, who found Mohr’s remains, believes that a tent at Camp 4 might have saved at least Mohr’s life.
For the final push, the team plans to start climbing on the evening of February 24. They’ll continue through the night and all the next morning. The exact departure time depends on the weather.
Although everyone will be on O2, it will be a long, hard journey, especially those in front, breaking trail and fixing ropes.
“They want to fix their own ropes, they do not want to use the old ropes still in place,” Sakhi told ExplorersWeb. Ropes fixed last summer or even last winter aren’t as reliable, especially on ice and snow, which describes K2’s Abruzzi Route above Camp 3.
Gelje Sherpa’s team on Cho Oyu and Grace Tseng’s on K2 and have set off toward the summit in far-from-ideal conditions.
They still have a lot of rope to fix, but both parties realize that as far as this winter is concerned, it’s now or never.
Gelje Sherpa reported yesterday from Camp 1 about the new variation that his team is opening.
“The wind is blowing at 90kph here,” he wrote.
“In spite of it, we plan to move higher, [with] the whole team of 10 climbers.”
The climbers have managed to reach 6,340m (Camp 2?) today.
In a remarkably bold move, they plan to go for the summit on Monday, February 21.
The team’s route will take them over the highly difficult East Ridge on their way to the summit, and conditions are not going to make that any easier.
“The weather seems tricky, [but] on February 21, there may be some hours of less wind above 7,500m,” Gelje reported.
“We are [waiting] for those few hours in the morning to make the final summit push.”
About the tracker controversy
Both Gelje Sherpa and Lakpa Dendi are carrying InReach devices, but until recently, the tracker information was not public. On the team’s latest rotation, Gelje posted some screenshots on social media with confusing altitude data. From Kathmandu, Alex Txikon told ExplorersWeb that he had access to both trackers.
“No one manipulated the pictures or the data,” Txikon said. “Rather, there was an error in the measurements from Gelje’s device.”
It seems that one waypoint showed 7,400m in error, while others nearby registered 7,200m — the maximum altitude reported by Lakpa Dendi. Gelje’s team in Kathmandu feeding his Instagram may have accidentally used the wrong reading.
The crew at Racetracker told Explorersweb that InReach devices are very accurate when properly positioned, but they may give inaccurate readings if carried under several layers of clothing, or especially if the device sits upside down in a pocket or backpack.
Other people besides Txikon now have access to the trackers, including ExplorersWeb, so we should now be able to follow the climbers’ progress live.
To Camp 3 and beyond on K2
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, outfitter Summit Karakoram has confirmed that the K2 team left for Camp 1 this morning, on a last-ditch summit attempt.
“Camp 3 is already fixed and probably our team will progress further,” the outfitter wrote.
With their summit, they made mountaineering history.
The Savage Mountain had finally been climbed in winter. A race that had started with the Polish “lords of winter” finished nearly 40 years later.
Nine out of 10 summiters were Sherpa (and the tenth, a Magar), the traditionally anonymous workers who form the backbone of the big commercial expeditions. That a Sherpa team took the prize added a feeling of historical justice to the event.
The summiters were: Mingma Gyalgie Sherpa, Dawa Tenzing Sherpa, and Kilu Sherpa of Rolwaling, Nirmal Purja of Gandaky, Mingma Gyabu “David” Sherpa of Taplejung, Dawa Temba Sherpa and Sona Sherpa of Makalu, Pemchhiri Sherpa of Dolakha, and Gelje Sherpa and Mingma Tenzi Sherpa of Solukhumbu.
When they first set foot on the Baltoro Glacier only three weeks earlier, the 10 were not a single unit but part of three separate teams, with different plans but the same goal.
Three teams, one goal
For Mingma G, Dawa Tensing, and Kilu Sherpa, it was their second attempt on Winter K2 after a failed commercial venture in 2019. Their previous expedition didn’t get much further than Camp 2. It ended with accusations from the two western members, John Snorri of Iceland and Tomaz Rotar of Slovenia, that Mingma G had ended the expedition for no good reason.
“This time, I will go without clients. It’s a burden and too much responsibility,” Mingma G said before leaving for Pakistan in the fall of 2020.
Sona Sherpa was working for Seven Summit Treks, by far the biggest team on the mountain. The company’s CEO, Chhang Dawa, had shocked the climbing community by announcing that he was willing to organize a commercial expedition on this last remaining winter 8,000’er. Only a handful of hard-core Himalayan veterans had attempted this mighty challenge, and winter K2 had repelled all of them.
Newbies and veterans
The relatively low cost and the promise of glory attracted a number of Dawa’s regular clients. Some had limited 8,000m experience, and none had attempted the Himalaya in winter before. It looked like a recipe for disaster. Sadly, it eventually proved so.
Some other K2 winter hopefuls were quite experienced, such as Sergi Mingote and Juan Pablo Mohr. Both were friends and well into their own no-O2, 14×8,000’er projects.
Nirmal Purja and his five teammates, plus Adrianna Brownlee (a 19-year-old British girl aiming to reach Camp 2 as preparation for Everest the following spring) and photographer Sandro Gromen-Hayes, were included in the Seven Summit Treks permit but had their own agenda. They were the last to reach Pakistan.
The third team on the mountain was the only one with no Nepali members. It was organized by John Snorri and assisted by one of Pakistan’s best climbers, Muhammad Ali Sadpara, the only man in the expedition who had actually summited another winter 8,000’er (Nanga Parbat). The third member of their team was Sadpara’s son, Sajid. Sajid was only 21 but had already summited K2 in summer.
At first, each expedition set its own strategy, although it was clear that they would need to collaborate to fix the ropes up the Abruzzi Spur. Then on December 29, Mingma G was fixing the route to Camp 3 but ran out of rope. Purja and his team reached Mingma with some spare ropes and a proposal.
The two leaders talked in Camp 2 and returned to Base Camp just in time for a well-watered New Year’s Eve party, and a spell of bad weather that lasted seven days.
“On January 13, we started climbing again, and Nims Dai [Nirmal Purja] joined our mission. We eyed a common goal and merged both our teams,” Mingma G told Dreamwanderlust.
At first, things did not look great. The wind blew away tents and gear, and Mingma G feared that his team might not have enough equipment for a summit push.
On January 14, a fierce wind battered Snorri and the Sadparas in Camp 2. They stayed put for the night, then retreated the next day. Mingma G pushed for Camp 3 instead and found better conditions there. When Purja heard, he also headed to Camp 3. At some point, Sona Sherpa also joined the group massing at Camp 3.
At this point, the Nepali teams stopped communicating with Base Camp or on social media (as Mingma David told ExplorersWeb in this interview). While most assumed that their immediate plan was to set up Camp 4 and return, they were actually preparing to go for the summit. They planned to go all the way from Camp 3, with no ropes other than the ones left from previous expeditions and those they would be able to fix along the way.
Also at Camp 3, slightly lower down, were no-O2 climbers Juan Pablo Mohr and Sergi Mingote. Mingote was the first to suggest the Nepalis “might try it” in a report. He also spoke of “the two Nepali teams on O2,” which brought some controversy afterward.
Mingote also mentioned that Sajid Sadpara had reached 7,000m carrying gear but that Snorri had retreated from the Black Pyramid. For Mingote and Mohr, a summit push was not an option before completing their acclimatization. Sadly, Mingote, one of the most experienced climbers on the mountain, lost his life in an accident the following day.
Meanwhile, the Nepali team set off from Camp 3. Mingma G went ahead to fix the route to Camp 4. At first, following the summer route was easy, but eventually, the three Sherpa climbers found an unpassable crevasse. The crevasse forced them to look for an alternative route. They retreated to close to Camp 3 and “moved more on the left through the Cesen route and finally managed to reach Camp 4.”
Mingma had wanted to summit without oxygen but eventually decided to use it because he was tired and very cold when they reached Camp 4. He also needed some rest. When Nirmal Purja arrived, Mingma considered turning around, but Purja encouraged him to continue. He left one hour later than the others and caught up with the team fixing ropes at the Bottleneck.
There are few details or pictures from the summit climb. Mingma G said that Mingma Tenzi fixed the last sections to the top, while he and Mingma David belayed him. Mingma G also noted that the final climb was less difficult than in summer because instead of loads of snow, the route was mostly ice.
Meanwhile, climbers in Base Camp (and audiences glued to social media) could only rely on short posts from Seven Summit Treks’ leader Chhang Dawa. There were some hours of concern when, after a report that the team was close to the summit, hours passed without news. Eventually, word of their summit came through very late in the afternoon.
Twenty-four hours later, Dawa posted a summit picture from Sona Sherpa. He and Gelje Sherpa, with frostnipped faces, had come all the way down from the summit to BC non-stop! Other climbers rested briefly in Camp 2. The following day, the rest of the Nepali team reached Base Camp, triumphant, happy, and safe.
There was unanimous applause from the climbing community, who waited for pictures, testimonies, and the summit push story. Surprisingly, there was nothing of the kind. Courtesy of the Pakistani authorities, the Nepali team took a helicopter back to Islamabad the next day. Later, back in Nepal, they received the heroes’ welcome that their remarkable feat deserved.
The summiters regarded their achievement as a matter of national pride. “[We paid] tribute to our nation, our national heroes,” Mingma G said.
In Base Camp, the sad loss of Sergi Mingote and the absence of the summit climbers made for a somber mood. Some abandoned the climb right there. The rest continued, hoping for another summit chance that never came. Worst of all, the mountain would take four more lives.
The flow of information was unusual. Two days after leaving Base Camp, Nirmal Purja stated that he had summited without O2. Mingma David said that Purja decided to climb without O2 shortly before the summit push and that they planned to keep it a secret until the release of a documentary about the climb. However, they changed their minds.
Purja’s photographer, Sandro Gromen-Hayes, didn’t join or document the summit climb and Purja never answered ExplorersWeb’s questions about his ascent. While there is no reason to doubt his word, such a remarkable achievement, especially considering that Purja climbed at the same pace as 10 super-strong Sherpa climbers on O2, deserves a more detailed account.
A new tactic?
As expert Dr. Robert Szymczak told ExplorersWeb, it is possible for a climber to keep pace without O2 while the rest use gas, as long as the rest of the team work on his behalf, much like a professional cycling team. Such a strategy, not common in high-altitude mountaineering, would be an interesting new tactic.
Purja’s many fans have aggressively denounced any questions about the lack of transparency. But requests for details are nothing new in mountaineering. Slovenian Tomaz Humar was questioned after Dhaulagiri and Spanish climber Kilian Jornet faced many uncomfortable questions after his Everest ascent. Perhaps Purja is waiting to tell the full story in a future film.
It was actually Mingma G who first provided a detailed account. In an interview with Dreamwanderlust on January 23, he explained that after their summit, the climbers were conveyed from one place to another, from celebration to celebration. On January 24, all the K2 summiters and Chhang Dawa shared the same summit video on their social media, accompanied by text written by Purja:
“Brother to brother, shoulder to shoulder, we walked together to the summit while singing the Nepali national anthem. We all stopped around 10m before reaching the summit to huddle and make our final steps together as a team to mark this historical feat, the first ascent of K2 in winter.
No individual agendas, no individual greed but only solidarity and joint force of Team Nepal with a shared vision. Super proud of all the team members for earning this for Nepal and humanity through hardship, selfless effort, and most importantly UNITY proving that Nothing is Impossible! We are honored to be sharing this moment with communities all across the world.”
Asked by Explorersweb, Mingma G explained who was who in the summit video. He also strongly denied the baseless accusations in Pakistani media suggesting that the Sherpas may have cut the ropes as they retreated.
One year later, the climbing community remains stunned by the incredible strength of the Sherpa team. The group pushed for the summit from Camp 3 and some made it all the way back to Base Camp the same day. Mingma G’s group had also been fixing ropes from Camp 3 to Camp 4 just hours before. They displayed an iron will, and the impact they have made, not only among the Nepali mountain communities but on mountaineers from around the world, is incredible.
As time has passed, the Sherpa climbers have spoken of their competitive fire, and their determination to ensure an all-Nepali team bagged the first ascent of winter K2. Mountaineering has a long history of nations racing to plant their flags on top of the 8000’ers. More than anyone, the Nepalis deserve their place in history.
In the end, the no-O2 aspect of the climb has dimmed in importance. The Nepalis’ unity and incredible strength were the focus of the climb.
The challenge of winter K2 is still there, for those dreaming of a completely no-O2 ascent, or by different routes or in small teams. But Nepal has rightfully claimed the hardest and last of the 8,000m winter firsts for itself.
At age 28, Gelje Sherpa has already climbed 11 of the 8,000’ers, including eight as part of Nirmal Purjas’ 2019 blitz of all 14.
He is also famous as the youngest of the 10-man Nepali team that summited Winter K2 on January 16, 2021.
Gelje climbed Everest in 2018 and again in 2021 as part of an Everest-Lhotse double-header.
He now has only Kanchenjunga, Broad Peak, and Cho Oyu to do before he completes the 14×8,000’ers.
If successful, he will become fourth Nepali to do all of them. And if he can do the last three within the next year and a half, he will also become the youngest member of this exclusive club. Mingma David Sherpa, Gelye’s superstar working partner at Elite Exped, currently owns that record.
But Gelje’s story goes beyond records and numbers. It’s a tale of survival and growth through a difficult childhood, a series of mountain tragedies, and one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.
ExplorersWeb had the rare chance to interview one of this younger generation of Super Sherpas shortly before Gelje left to guide on Manaslu.
In his father’s footsteps
What’s your family background?
I was born and raised in the Solukhumbu area with my three siblings. I lost my mother when I was a small child. My father had seasonal work as a porter for Westerners and that is how we made our living.
Because of various obstacles, I couldn’t continue my education after primary school, which I always regret. After that, I started to follow in my father’s footsteps.
At age 14, I went with my father to Mera Peak in the Everest region. I gave climbers warm water below the summit. I got the job by accident. The real cook was sick.
I remember receiving $700 in tips for my work. Those tips were the magnet that drew me to the industry. At 16, I started to work as a porter and later as an assistant guide.
While I was a guide, I got married. My wife’s relatives helped me get a job as an Icefall Doctor. I did it for five years. I enjoyed it for the first few years because I didn’t know anything about the Khumbu Icefall. Later, I discovered how deadly and untrustworthy that place is. I was delighted when I was promoted from Icefall Doctor to 8,000m climbing guide.
Every mountaineer I met asked me if I’d done Everest. I wanted to climb it one day and I started to hunt for an expedition company [to build up my resumé]. In spring 2017, I had the chance to go to Kangchenjunga as a high-altitude guide. We had to turn back at 8,200m because of bad weather.
That autumn, I had a chance to summit Manaslu. It was my first 8,000’er. Later in 2018, I also went to Everest for the first time.
Why are you heading to Manaslu as a guide rather than focusing on completing the remaining 8,000’ers? You’re in a race to become the youngest to summit them all.
I wish I could do that but I need to earn some money to make my project come true. Because of COVID-19, we have lost most of our income, so to support my family in Kathmandu, I have to work. Rent, my children’s education, and their food are more important than record-setting.
Kangchenjunga later this fall
What are your plans after Manaslu?
I am planning to climb Kangchenjunga on a commercial climb later this autumn as a climbing Sherpa. I am doing it this way to save money for Cho Oyu and Broad Peak. Money issues are currently keeping me up at night. [Editor’s note: The only commercial climb on Kangchenjunga this fall is Alpenglow’s.]
Currently, the Chinese are not allowing foreign climbers into the country. How do you plan to climb Cho Oyu?
The Nepal/China border has not yet opened. Even the few Chinese who visited the Nepalese mountains last spring are having a hard time returning home because of rising COVID rates in Nepal. I will try to obtain a diplomatic permit through the Ministry of Tourism. If that doesn’t work, I may try from the Nepal side. But there is no official route and I would need at least a dozen Sherpa friends to support me. I am hoping to make this happen in spring or fall 2022.
What about Broad Peak?
Hopefully, that will be in summer 2022.
Once you complete the 14×8,000’ers, and especially if you do get the “youngest” record, how do you think it will affect your life?
This will open new windows of opportunity, and elevate my profile and career from where they are today. It would lead to more publicity and hopefully allow me to form [my own outfitting] company.
It will also help many other Sherpas like me who come from remote corners of Nepal looking for opportunities in Kathmandu. I will work on developing our Sherpa porters and climbers and make an elite team of adventurists while creating employment. In Nepal, I will be a role model for the younger generation and will pursue motivational speaking and social work as well.
Vocation, not avocation
If money were no issue, would you still work in high-altitude mountains?
I have to speak the truth: Definitely not! I’ve been doing this hard job mainly to earn a living. It’s also true that after climbing all these mountains, part of me has fallen in love with them and I couldn’t just walk away. My life will continue to evolve, but the mountains will always be part of that.
But I can’t say how important these mountains will be to my children’s generation. I hope they have the chance to enjoy other meaningful but less strenuous careers. It is not necessarily my goal for my children to follow in their father’s footsteps.
Is there one mountain you got a lot of personal pleasure out of climbing?
Nanga Parbat. It’s a killer mountain, but the views are great and its climbing history is so memorable. The loss of Sherpas on Nanga Parbat while climbing for the Germans [in 1934] makes me proud to be a Sherpa. They died together with their employers and didn’t run away from the problems.
And from the top of Nanga Parbat, you can see the beautiful villages, greenery, roads, temples, and valleys all the way down. I have always found this in stark contrast with the summit of Everest, where all you can see is layers and layers of mountains.
How do you remember the day that you were on the summit of K2 with the other nine Nepalis? What was it like, how did each section feel, the arrival at the summit…?
I first went to winter K2 in 2018-19 with Alex Txikon. We reached near Camp 3, so I already had some idea about K2 in winter. In 2021, we decided at the last minute to go to K2 because we realized that summiting it in winter was going to be a race among mountaineers.
We were pretty confident in our ability to attack it collectively under the leadership of Nirmal Purja. We joined forces with Mingma G’s team and also with Sona Sherpa’s Seven Summit Treks’ group. This made 10 of us, which gave us even more confidence that we could solve this great problem in high-altitude mountaineering.
But passing through the Bottleneck was not easy. The blue ice was so thick and strong. Around 100 to 120m of it was so hard that my crampon teeth could barely go half an inch deep. I was tired, and it was so cold.
On the summit day, we kept 10 to 12 minutes maximum between climbers, since it was not ideal to wait longer for each other and get frostbite. Our team reached the top together and sang the Nepalese anthem, which brought tears to my eyes.
After the summit, I rushed back to Base Camp with Sona, since sleeping with frostbitten cheeks wasn’t the best idea. Nirmal Purja was concerned about my safety on the way down, but I assured him as well as I could.
Teamwork was the best part of our success and one of the things that we Sherpas take pride in. Although we normally climb as guides and porters for Westerners, this time we climbed on our own, as climbers. This record is for Nepal and will always make Nepal and Nepalese proud.
The day we returned to Kathmandu, we went to a formal event at our Prime Minster’s residence. The welcome and love we received from the Nepalese people will always make this one of the most memorable days of my life.
In Pakistan, we also met their Army General and their President Dr. Arif Alvi at his residence. It was a beautiful part of the K2 story which I won’t forget.
Triumph and tragedy
Sadly, the tragic loss of Ali Sadpara, John Snorri, and Juan Pablo Mohr soon overshadowed your team’s amazing success. Any comments?
While coming down from the summit, I gave Ali Sadpara my first-hand impressions. I said that his team had fewer people and it could be very difficult for Ali’s team to attack K2. But he might have thought to himself, “Why can’t I make it when you little Sherpas can?”
This led to the bitter experience of losing him. I will always remember that I had tried him to stop but failed.
It was a very hard time for us: At the same time that we were celebrating in Kathmandu, Pakistan was losing its hero and was in pain and sorrow. We didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
There were also rumors that the Nepalese cut the fixed ropes, which was just false. We had no time to think of anything other than returning safely to camp. We are a Buddhist people, and our karma does not allow us to do such things. That was a huge public underestimation of Sherpa ethics. We have supported generations of Westerners and proved our loyalty and honesty.
How are you doing in these difficult times for mountain tourism because of COVID?
We are living a basic life from small savings that came from winter K2 and other expeditions. COVID has hit my family hard, but who should I tell this to? Nepal’s government? Tourism organizations?
At the end of the day, you climb the mountain yourself, so I also have to manage this on my own. The government in Nepal does not understand the hard work that we do for our country. There is no support in this hard time for any tourism worker.
This doesn’t make climbers happy. Sadly, some are leaving Nepal for life in other developed countries. If I didn’t have some small savings, I can imagine how hard it would be financially for me.
Sherpas use supplemental oxygen while guiding because they are at work. But if they were climbing for “fun”, they could do some amazing alpine-style climbs. What do you think about this?
It is already clear that Sherpas do not necessarily need as much oxygen as their clients. Just look at the records of Ang Rita Sherpa, Babu Chhiri Sherpa, or Nirmal Purja. We are born and raised where less oxygen is present in the air we breathe daily. But for the safety of our clients, we climb with oxygen. As a joke, we call it “English air”.
No Sherpa wife wants her loved one to climb
What does your family think about your profession?
My wife doesn’t want me to go to the mountains, she says I should find other opportunities. She knows that mountaineering is not an easy game and how hard the work is. She sees this from my pictures or from the news about some Sherpa’s accident. It happens often.
Every Sherpa spouse knows how much losing someone affects the whole family. If you look at history, even Ang Lambu, the wife of Tenzing Norgay, wanted to stop him from joining the 1953 British expedition. They had an argument in their home in Darjeeling. But in the end, Ang Lambu had no option but to let him go. I guess no Sherpa wife is happy to send her loved one to the mountains.
When I go climbing, my wife does special prayers in our home and lights prayer candles for my safety. Sometimes she buys a captive fish and frees it in the river for my sake or releases pigeons in temples.
Meeting Nirmal Purja
How did you meet Nirmal Purja ?
In spring 2019 on Annapurna, I was part of a Seven Summit Treks team and first met Nirmal Purja. I was considered a possible teammate on Nirmal Purja’s project and went to Dhaulagiri directly from Annapurna. Dhaulagiri was the mountain I always wanted to climb, so I asked Purja if I could join his team. He said yes. That was the beginning of my real race with the 8,000’ers. After that, we went to Makalu, and after Makalu, we went to Pakistan. I have earned my family’s livelihood through his company for several years.
The Khumbu collapse and the earthquake
Have you had many close calls in the mountains?
On April 18, 2014, I was just half an hour away when that avalanche killed 16 Sherpas in the Khumbu Icefall. That year, I was working as an Icefall Doctor. After the accident, I worked on the rescue and management of the dead bodies.
Then on April 25, 2015, again on Everest, a 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal. I saved myself from the avalanche that came from Pumori into Base Camp by hiding under the dining table in camp. At least 22 people died that year also. The avalanche gave me a mild head injury, but I was lucky to be alive. There were dozens of dead bodies beside me.
Once on Dhaulagiri, we went down overnight from the summit to base camp. The whole thing was in the dark, and I accidentally clipped into an old rope. But I was still clipped into a new one, which saved me [when the old rope broke]. At night, it’s hard to identify the old ropes, as they all look pretty similar in snow.
Till this day, God has looked after me very well, but you can’t trust mountains.
Do you think you can break the record of your friend Mingma David, who climbed the 14 8,000’ers by age 30 years and 166 days?
I wish I could, but I am still looking for sponsorship. Finances are my problem because I am just a Sherpa climber. Also getting a permit for Cho Oyu from China will be complicated.
Currently, I am 28 years and 10 months old, which means I have more than a year and a half to break this record. If things go well, I am pretty confident I can manage it.
When the team of three did not return to the high camp on the afternoon of February 5, the worst had to be expected. The weather window began to close, the winds increased and the temperatures dropped below minus 50 degrees at the K2 summit. In the following days there were no signs of life from Ali Sadpara (Pakistan), John Snorri (Iceland) and Juan Pablo Mohr (Chile). Extensive search work was started, even a fighter jet from the Pakistani army circled K2 – but the three had disappeared without a trace.
They were certainly no longer alive, shortly afterwards they were officially declared dead. Perhaps they had been torn into the abyss by an avalanche or even blown away from the summit, so the hypotheses. Experts agreed that the bodies might never be found. That they would now be found during the summer ascent, in the middle of the normal route – that was not to be expected.
In the middle of the route
Around noon on July 26th, the Ukrainian guide Valentyn Sypavin reached Camp 4 and looked at the so-called “Bottleneck”, the notorious bottleneck that the climbers have to cross below the summit. He immediately noticed two unusual black dots, he writes in a detailed report on explorersweb.com. He would have set out with a hundred meters of rope to support the restraint work of the Sherpas, who were already approaching the Bottleneck. Arriving on the shoulder above Camp 4, he discovered a yellow scrap of cloth. “I had a feeling that the little piece of cloth sticking out of the snow could be attached to something bigger,” he writes.
Arriving above Camp 4, Valentyn Sypavin noticed a yellow scrap of cloth.
His assumption was confirmed. He only dug until he realized he had found a dead climber.
It soon became clear that it was Juan Pablo Mohr.
The two black dots in the Bottleneck should turn out to be the corpses of Ali Sadpara and John Snorri.
Caught on a fixed rope
All three were apparently in decline at the time of their death. This is indicated, for example, by the figure eight with which Ali Sadpara was found hanging on a fixed rope. John Snorri was only attached to the rope with a carabiner, but that also makes sense – it is known that he was often released from fixed ropes in the style of the Sherpas: only hooked in with a carabiner, the rope wrapped around his hand to brake.
Sypavin describes the situation in which John Snorri’s body found itself in great detail and provides a possible course of events. According to this, the fixed rope could have been fatal for the Icelander, from which he could no longer free himself due to complete exhaustion. The body hung below the last anchor in the slack rope. Sypavin suspects that the Icelander no longer had the strength to pull himself up and attach his carabiner to the next section of the fixed rope. “He should have climbed to the snow anchor. That would be about three meters on the front spikes up the ice slope, without Jumar. ”
According to Sypavin, the fact that Juan Pablo Mohr was significantly lower than Sadpara and Snorri could mean that he was running ahead and froze to death waiting for his two companions. He rules out the Chilean falling, neither posture nor material have shown any signs of this. As a possibly fatal circumstance, Sypavin cites the start from Camp 3 at approx. 7330 meters.
Sypavin rules out the Chilean falling, neither posture nor material showed signs of this.
Normally, mountaineers start the summit advance from Camp 4 at 7850 meters. So the tent that saved us was further away on the descent. “I think that if there had been a tent in Camp 4, Juan Pablo Mohr would have had a chance of survival,” writes Sypavin in his report. For him it is certain that the three died of exhaustion. “There were no falls and no secret. The K2 is a difficult, high mountain in winter. ”
For Sypavin it is certain that the three mountaineers died of exhaustion.
Did they stand on the summit?
Sajid Sadpara and Elia Saikaly were also looking for answers on the mountain this July. The Canadian mountaineer and filmmaker Saikaly accompanied the two Sadparas – father Ali and son Sajid – and Snorri with the camera last winter, he was supposed to capture the attempt to climb the winter. While Sajid drove the search for his missing father, Saikaly is also concerned with completing his film. He largely financed the expedition from his own resources, during which he now spent five days on the mountain with Sajid and announced some of it on Instagram.
“It was hard to believe what I was filming. Sajid stood on a one and a half meter wide ledge with the abyss below and shared his feelings when he met his father face to face, ”he sums up the moment they approached Ali Sadpara’s corpse. Even when they got to John Snorri a little further up and were looking for his belongings, he held the camera on it.
“Sajid spent over 15 minutes reaching into John’s bags and boots, hoping to find essential items. At some point he pulled out his knife and began to cut up John’s clothes (…) I documented flying feathers when he triumphantly pulled out the most important element: the GoPro. What would it reveal? ”
VThe media has at various times speculated that the three climbers reached the summit before they died. In particular, data from a last contact with John Snorri’s cell phone were brought into the field. Allegedly there was a geolocation at the summit, but clear facts are missing until now. In this respect, the hopes were high that a camera or a GPS device of the victims would now provide clarity.
There wasn’t much to be extracted from the GoPro – at least for the time being. The files on it were all damaged except for a single image. It shows the legs of a mountaineer in a yellow and black down suit, as worn by John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr. The yellow fixed rope in which the climber is attached is likely to be more decisive. This was relocated by the Nepalese during their summit advance on January 16. Nirmal Purja, the face of the Nepalese success for the first K2 winter ascent, answered the post promptly. He knew exactly where this point was, he was as mysterious as it was meaningless.
Saikaly states that the work continues.
Don’t jump to conclusions that the three were on the summit.
What is certain is that Ali Sadpara, John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr will stay at K2 forever. With the help of a Bolivian mountaineer, Sajid brought his father down to his shoulder and buried him according to Islamic ritual. John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr were left at the site.
After the successful ascent of K2 in the summer of 2021, my team went home. All clients reached the summit, including the first Russian woman, Olga Koroleva, and the first Ukrainian woman, Irina Galay. I am very happy. However, I am haunted by the thoughts of what happened to the three brave men who attempted to summit K2 last winter but who did not return. These were Muhammad Ali Sadpara (Pakistan), John Snorri (Iceland), and Juan Pablo (JP) Mohr (Chile).
For several months, this question has haunted many people: What happened? Sajid Ali Sadpara, Ali Sadpara’s son, and Elia Saikaly launched an expedition to find out. I was there too, as an ordinary guide and climber who was leading a commercial expedition. I want to say that I grieve with all the relatives and friends of the victims and offer my sincere condolences. Here, I’m just presenting exactly what I saw and some of my assumptions.
The main questions, in my opinion, are:
Did the three climbers reach the summit of K2 before they died? If so, did they all do it? And lastly, why did they die?
These questions may be answered in future by checking the cameras of the victims. But I was the first to find one body [JP Mohr] and saw two more bodies on the way to the summit 10 days ago. Since not much on these circumstances has appeared since then, I would like to offer my firsthand findings.
I first reached Camp 4 on July 26 at 11:30 am. Of course, I started photographing the Bottleneck. At this time, a team of Sherpas were working on the route below the Serac. If I am not mistaken, these were three Sherpas from our Alpomania-Pioneer team and four Sherpas from the Madison team.
I immediately noticed that two large black points lay on the route at different heights, much higher than the Bottleneck, and dark lines resembling ropes went up and down from them. After my clients reached Camp 4, I gave them tea, took 100m of rope, and went higher in order to facilitate the work on the night of the summit push.
At this time, Elia [Saikaly] attacked our sirdar, Lakpa Sherpa, saying that this was not a race and why I was I going there. I still do not understand why Elia did this, and other witnesses of the event were in shock. But after about an hour and twenty minutes, I reached the beginning of the fixed ropes and saw a yellow piece of fabric in the snow to the far left. This fabric was not visible from C4. I got curious and came closer to the fabric.
I felt that the small piece of fabric sticking out of the snow could be attached to something bigger, even though no human traces, like parts of crampons or boots, were visible.
I immediately took a photo and video of the position of this piece of fabric relative to the Bottleneck and C4. I had an ice ax and started carefully digging. Immediately, I saw that it was a North Face yellow-and-black down suit or jacket.
I felt cold inside. Then I took out a GoPro and began to film my findings. At first, I saw the harness — which at first I took for a backpack strap — and then the top of the boots. They were the new Scarpa 8000 model with a straight zipper.
I then got to the bottom of the Petzl crampons. These were blunt. I did not recognize the model of these crampons. After realizing that the suit and the boots were new and that this was a body, I didn’t dig further.
Since a special expedition was working on the mountain to find these bodies, I decided that it was necessary to convey this information to them as soon as possible. It was then up to them to continue. I did not excavate the face of the climber or open any areas of the body. At the time, I did not know who it was because I did not know who was wearing that suit and boots.
The deceased was lying with his head facing west and his feet facing east, legs in the fetal position. The suit and boots were intact with no signs of damage from a fall or anything else.
There were no obvious unnatural body positions caused by, for example, limb fractures. There were no ropes and no backpack on his back. The body was far from the Bottleneck. If one goes down from the Serac without oxygen, it would take at least one hour to reach this place. Most likely, the climber froze and died from exhaustion.
After taking photos, I left my rope a little higher and went to C4 to tell about the body. Elia was kind to me and asked me to show the location of the body for his drone, but we did not manage to start it. Then they (Elia and Sajid) made a video where I tell about the find and show the photos on my phone. Meanwhile, the Sherpas descended to C4 without reaching the higher black dots that I saw earlier.
The summit push took place on the night of July 27, 2021. The Sherpas, clients, high altitude porters, and several Pakistani climbers were on their way. Three Sherpas (Sanu, Pemba Rita, and possibly Chiring) from the Alpomania-Pioneer team worked higher on the route.
After them, I was the first to climb on fixed ropes, followed by my clients and Sherpas.
After the traverse under the Serac, the ascent began. At the end of a steep ice wall, we encountered a body.
I immediately realized that this was a deceased climber. I had seen many of them on Everest. It was dark and I could not see much. I examined the body more carefully during the descent, when it was light.
Here’s what I can say:
The deceased was lying on his back, upside down. There were several fixed ropes around.
The deceased was in a Kailas suit. The suit had faded in the sun and was intact, undamaged, untorn. He was wearing Millet boots and Petzl crampons. The crampons were very blunt.
The arms were spread out to the sides. He was wearing a hood and a backpack. In other words, Ali was lying on his backpack. His left hand was ungloved. An old green rope was wrapped around the left crampon. He was wearing a harness. A figure 8 descender was attached to the rope.
It is absolutely certain that Ali was descending. The body lay on a flat surface. Since the rope was fixed to a nearby anchor, I assume that there was no fall from a height. It is possible that Ali was simply descending facing toward the mountain on the fixed ropes (in the darkness?). He may have caught his foot in the rope and fell on his back. He might have been completely exhausted and not able to get up anymore.
About 100m above, a third body hung on the fixed ropes.
There is a clear picture of what happened. The body hung in a fetal position, with his face to the west and his back to the east. His crampons Grivel G21+ were very blunt.
His face looked down. He had no dark glasses, and the left hand did not have a glove.
Many people say that Snorri never used a descender because he went down on a carabiner, Sherpa style, with the rope wound around his hand. I can confirm that he was descending. The climber had a long lifeline that was clipped to the fixed rope with a carabiner.
The fixed rope had a lot of slack, and it played a cruel joke.
During the descent, Snorri reached a snow anchor that was broken in half and caught the fixed rope. It formed a loop of fixed rope, in which Snorri found himself caught. He might not have seen it in the dark or because of fatigue. If one descends facing away from the mountain, one might not see it.
In any case, he found himself caught on a tight loop of the fixed rope. He would have had to climb to the snow anchor in order to release the snagged rope. This would be about three metres up the ice slope, on the front teeth of his crampons, without a jumar.
Alternatively, he could clip the carabiner of his lifeline from the snagged fixed rope to the proper fixed rope. This was also very difficult, as the rope was already very tight.
In any case, Snorri did not have the strength to get out of this situation. I think he was just exhausted. Was it dark and cold? What was the weather? These are no longer questions for me.
Snorri and Sadpara were definitely descending. There were no falls and no mystery.
K2 is a difficult, high mountain in winter. They started the summit push from C3 (7,330m!).
I think that if there had been a tent in C4, then JP would have had chances to survive.
JP is said to have moved quickly on the mountain. Most likely, he had already descended below the Bottleneck, was waiting for the others, and froze to death.
Yet another question concerns the crevasse above C3. I followed the 2021 winter ascent of K2 and read that some climbers complained that the Sherpa climbers did not warn them about a large crevasse.
This crack allegedly blocked the path on the summit push and could not be bypassed.
It is very strange that I have not seen a single photo of this crevasse. It is also strange that 10 Sherpas were able to get around it. And the three deceased climbers were able to overcome it too.
In summer, there are no crevasses at all above C3, despite the fact that for six months the bodies of the deceased climbers, especially JP Mohr, lay practically on the surface.
This suggests that new snow had not filled and hidden the crevasse.
This is everything that I wanted to report. Of course, further data from the photographs and video files from the cameras of the victims may further clarify what happened that day. I don’t want to speculate.
Translated by Ganna Rozhnova
EDITOR’S NOTE: While we have not posted close-up photos of the bodies, their position on the mountain may be relevant to understanding what happened. So we have included those distant shot only.
The discovery of the bodies on K2 of John Snorri, Ali Sadpara and Juan Pablo Mohr , who never returned from their Summit attempt this winter, clarified the causes of their deaths. But he did not answer another question, which perhaps appears useless given the tragedy, but which can help family members and the community in the search for a sense of the supreme sacrifice of these three mountaineers who lost their lives to chase their dream.
Did John Snorri, Ali Sadpara and Juan Pablo Mohr reach the Summit of K2 before they died?
Given the location of Snorri and Sadpara’s bodies and the equipment found, it was determined that they were certainly downhill. But this does not prove that they had reached the top, it may be that they had given up earlier.
To give hope about the possibility of having an answer was Elia Saikaly, who returned to Base Camp and announced that Snorri’s GPS, GoPro, satellite and smartphone had been found.
Mohr’s camera was not found.
These days Sajid Sadpara, son of Ali, started to look inside, but sadly the files are damaged and it was possible to recover only a single last frame of a corrupt video of Snorri during the ascent to the Summit.
Moreover, with the date of 7 February 2019, a date certainly wrong since the little that is seen is a rope, which is certainly one of those positioned by the Nepalese during their Summit attempt.
Juan Pablo Mohr, Ali Sadpara and John Snorri went missing during a summit attempt on Feb. 5
This is also confirmed by Nirmal Purja, who offered to lend a hand in understanding what altitude they were at.
“ Our work continues from here. We do not come to a hasty conclusion and continue to put together the means and look for evidence of a successful winter ascent “writes Elia Saikaly, who to those who ask him if they plan to have the devices found examined by digital forensic experts replies:” [Experts] [they] will certainly be consulted, as well as forensic specialists. There are too many strange details in the totality of the situation […], especially for the film which we hope will be as conclusive as possible ”.
The last frame of video from John Snorri’s GoPro 360, shot during their Summit push during winter on K2.
It was an incredibly dangerous search just beneath 8300m. John Snorri was the highest of the three climbers, attached to the winter K2 safety lines installed by the Nepalese Sherpas. John, Ali and JP were all on the descent. Ali Sadpara was a few rope lengths below and Juan Pablo a significant distance away near camp 4.
PK sat above me at the anchor monitoring the situation from a safety standpoint. I rely on him as my eyes are generally glued to my electronic viewfinder. I hung off my ascender entrusting my life into the fresh line from summer with my crampons firmly biting into the ice. I filmed the scene as Sajid searched John Snorri for 4 items: a Garmin, a satellite phone, a Samsung mobile and a 360 GoPro.
The slope was between 75 and 80 degrees. One wrong move and that would be it. Sajid spent over 15 minutes reaching in to John’s jacket, pockets and boots hoping to find the crucial items. At one point, he pulled his knife out and began cutting John’s clothing. You can’t imagine how difficult it is to move/search a person once they’ve passed on an 8000m peak. I documented feathers flying as he triumphantly pulled out the most important item: the GoPro. What would it reveal?
This is the only piece of visual information that we have at the moment. A single frame of video which is corrupt that will need further analysis. The date is incorrect, logged as February 7th, 2019.
What do you see? The color of the rope is quite an important detail. The heroic Nepali Sherpas who summited K2 in winter would recognize this rope as they installed it. But where is this? How close to the Summit? Can the GoPro 360 reveal the Geo position of the climbers? What else can be learned from this image? Strangely it does not play on any of the devices we have including the GoPro 360 app.
Our work continues here. We jump to no conclusions as we continue to put the pieces together and search for evidence of a successful winter ascent.
At least this proved all the conspiracy theories against Nepali Sherpa’s were wrong.
Sajid Sadpara left them at 10am at 8200m. They couldn’t reach the Summit at 8611m before 3 pm and then to return back at 8300 in a winter evening with sunset at 5pm. Is humanly not possible, as this picture seems to be taken of a good day light.
This shoe print on ice shows that He has completed his footstep by forcing on right foot as action force because the rotating footprint is describing that it took as time as it make this footprint to complete the footstep.
This footstep is also showing that he is descending because left foot is down and if he ascends then after completing footstep the left foot should be upward as reaction force.
This clearly shows that he took his left foot down as reaction due to the action of right foot.
Hence, He is descending because action and reaction are equal but opposite in direction.
With the arrival of the first mountaineers at the Base Camp they reached the summit of K2 on July 26, finding the bodies of Mohr, Snorri and Sadpara along the ascent route, we begin to have a clearer picture of what could have happened that tragic 5 February, 2021 to the three climbers .
To give some more details, is the Ukrainian mountaineer Valentyn Sypavin, who was joined by the questions of Elena Laletina, of Russianclimb.
Sypavin explains that the first to be found was Mohr, about 20 minutes from Camp4.
Remember that this winter the highest camp on the mountain was Camp3.
“Ali and John were attached by jumars to fixed ropes. They were both without oxygen masks or O2 bottles…The Chilean [JP Mohr] lay just 20 minutes from C4. He was the first downhill [… I. He walked quickly and maybe went first. I think he just froze on the slope. Maybe he was waiting for [the other] two…”
Higher up, as seen in the photo, Muhammad Ali Sapdara and John Snorri, both still attached to the fixed ropes one with a descender, the other with a sliding carabiner.
This can only mean that they were going down and not going up.
That they were turning back after reaching the Summit cannot be said, they may have given up higher.
It is hoped, however, to be able to find out soon since Elia Saikaly, climbing partner of Sajid Sadpara, announced that he had found Snorri’s GoPro and GPS.
As already mentioned, the three bodies were moved from the normal route by Sajid Sadpara and placed in safety. The recovery or not will be evaluated later with the priority not to expose any mountaineers who try to risk too high.
What may have happened
Given the position in which they were found, falling or other external factors, such as a collapse of ice, can be ruled out.
It was the cold and the tiredness that gave them no escape.
The fact that Snorri and Sadpara, who we know for sure were going up with oxygen, were found without cylinders suggests that at some point they ran out and that the two climbers got rid of them.
With the acclimatization they had, fatigue and especially the extreme conditions of winter K2, it was not possible to survive.
“I was first who found JP [Mohr], dug him [out] from the snow. Ali & John were attached to fixed rope by jumars, they both without oxygen masks and oxy bottles … The Chilean was lying 20 minutes from C4, he walked quickly and could go first. I think he just froze already on the slope. Maybe he was waiting for two … “
UPDATE: They were attached to the fixed rope not by jumars! One by descender, other by sliding carabiner.
“The three climbers were retreating, with or without a summit, and not climbing.”
Unchecked reports, fake news, guessing, and misunderstandings continue to buzz around everything related to Sajid Sadpara and his attempt to recover his father’s remains.
What we can confirm is that the young Sadpara moved the remains of Ali Sadpara away from the main route. Some reports say back to Camp 4.
Then he performed a religious ceremony to honor Ali and set off for Base Camp.
Sajid’s official account reads: “I have secured the body of our hero at C4. An Argentinian climber has been a great help in bringing the body [from] above the Bottleneck to C4. I offered Fatih & recited Holy Quran on behalf of the whole nation. Secured place with Pakistan flag.”
We know of no Argentinian climber currently on K2. Hugo Ayaviri is on the mountain and summited — reportedly without supplementary O2 — earlier today, but he is from Bolivia. Again, details will become clearer once the climbers return to Base Camp. Tonight, Sajid and his team are resting in Camp 3.
Ali Porik confirms that some personal items have been retrieved for the remains of the fallen climbers.
These include at least one InReach device and possibly cellphones and cameras.
The data on these devices could shed light on the last hours of the missing climbers, including whether they reached the summit or not.
On returning to Camp 4, Elia Saikaly texted: “Mission Accomplished. Mind Blown.”
It remains to be seen whether Pakistani army helicopters will be able to retrieve the bodies. They can sling them by long lines from Camp 2, but hardly any higher. All the families agree that they wanted their loved ones back home, if possible, but any recovery will be hazardous, difficult, and costly.
John Snorri Sigurjónsson’s family has issued a statement regarding the latest information about the fate of John and his friends who died on the mountain K2 last February.
Yesterday it was reported that three bodies had been found on K2 and they are believed to be John Snorri, Juan Pablo Mohr and Ali Sadpara.
The family statement can be read in its entirety below:
Certain uncertainty has now been removed about the fate of John Snorri, Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Juan Pablo Mohr on K2 on February 5, as the search for them has now been successful.
It is entirely up to the Pakistani authorities to decide whether to try to get their bodies off the mountain, but conditions on K2 are very difficult. It is important that the safety of those who take part in such operations is ensured if a decision is made to transfer them to a base camp.
According to information from Elia Saikaly, who is on K2, the location of John and Ali is above the so-called Bottleneck on K2, while Juan’s location is much closer to Camp 4. Given the circumstances, there are strong indications that they were on their way down from the top of the mountain when they died.
Personal belongings, cameras and other equipment they brought with them will probably shed more light on what happened on this fateful day and, among other things, answer the question of whether they have reached the top of K2. The management of that investigation will also be in the hands of the Pakistani authorities and all information on the results will come from them.
“The John family would like to thank you for the warmth, support and care we have been shown in recent months and we would like to reiterate our sincere thanks to everyone who has taken part in the search for John Snorri, Ali and J Pablo,” says Lína Móey, wife of John Snorri.
Madison’s and several other teams are pushing for the summit of K2 tonight and tomorrow. It is the first time that climbers have ventured higher than Camp 3, since the sad events that took place six months ago.
Ali Sadpara’s son, Sajid, reached Camp 4 earlier today, with his two partners, Elia Saikaly and Pasang Kaji Sherpa.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that the deceased climbers were found around the base of the Bottleneck. We are currently trying to confirm this.
Winter K2: What Happened on February 5
Back on February 5, Ali Sadpara, John Snorri, and Sajid Sadpara left Camp 3 for the summit, despite difficult conditions and a very short weather window. Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile followed them without O2.
Tomaz Rotar of Slovenia also set off but stopped at the edge of a huge crevasse that he considered impassable. When he met the Sadparas and Snorri, he told them of the obstacle. The three climbers decided to continue and try to find a passage somehow.
Sajid had problems with his O2 system, and his father eventually sent him back to C3. He was slightly confused when he returned, but said that he had turned around higher up the Bottleneck, above where the bodies have reportedly turned up.
Sajid Sadpara waited in Camp 3 for the rest of the day and the following night. Those in Base Camp then talked him into coming down to save his own life, because of worsening weather.
In the following days and weeks, aerial searches tried to locate the missing climbers.
There were even attempts to track them through their satphone signals. Much later, a small group of Pakistani climbers tried to go up and find them, but fierce weather forced them back.
Until now, no one has been high enough on K2 to realistically look for signs of Sadpara, Snorri, and Mohr.
We are good, back at Camp 4. Heading back up tonight to try to complete the mission.
Today at 4:00 PM
If anyone can help us get more oxygen, anyone from Pakistan with influence, people at BC leaving, we could use your help. Running low.
Today at 3:59 PM
Sajid just buried Juan Pablo. His father Ali is just above the Bottleneck. We will go up again tonight.
The bodies of climbers Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Iceland’s John Snorri and Chile’s Juan Pablo Mohr were found on K2 on Monday, over five months after they went missing, Alpine Club of Pakistan Secretary Karrar Haideri said in a statement.
He said that it was “very difficult” to bring the bodies down from the mountain because of the high altitude, adding that the Army Aviation was helping in this regard.
Haideri said Snorri’s body would be shifted to Iceland at the request of his wife, Lina. Mohr’s sister and mother had also decided previously that his body would be brought back to Chile, the ACP secretary said.
Talking to Dawn.com, Mushtaq Mett, the Base Camp manager of Mashabrum Expeditions, Treks and Tours Pakistan and the Madison Mountaineering K2 Expedition 2021, said that around 11am today [July 26, 2021], the METT Nepalese Sherpa rope-fixing team found the first body 400 metres above Camp 4 which was Mohr’s.
“The team found the second body when they were 300m away from the Bottleneck. They were able to identify it as Sadpara’s. Another 100m away, they found Snorri’s body.”