ISLAMABAD (AP) — Three mountaineers who went missing earlier this month while attempting to scale the world’s second-highest mountain, K2, should now be considered dead, Pakistani officials said on February 18.
The announcement brings closure to a dramatic tragedy on one of the most dangerous mountains to climb in the world. K2 had never been scaled in winter until only last month when a Nepalese team reached the peak.
Search efforts for the missing climbers -- famous Pakistani mountaineer Ali Sadpara, Jon Snorri of Iceland, and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile -- were called off last week amid bad weather.
Clouds, strong winds, and snow had made previous search-and-rescue operations too dangerous for both mountaineers on foot as well as helicopters.
Sadpara's son, Sajid, speaking at a news conference alongside officials, told reporters in the northern town of Skardu that he was grateful that authorities had done their best to try and find the group, which went missing on February 5.
“I believe they scaled it but had an accident while coming down,” Sajid said, adding he himself had hoped to join the group but couldn't because his oxygen tanks malfunctioned.
Karrar Haidri of the Pakistan Alpine Club told The Associated Press that the climbers' death was a great loss.
“We are very sad over the tragic demise of all the three climbers,” he said, adding that authorities had used helicopters and porters to try to recover the bodies but even those efforts had failed.
The three climbers lost contact with their base camp while attempting their ascent of the 8,611-meter (28,250-foot) high K2, which is sometimes referred to as “killer mountain.”
In winter, winds on K2 can blow at more than 200 kph (125 mph) and temperatures can drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit). In one of the deadliest mountaineering accidents ever, 11 climbers died in a single day trying to scale K2 in 2008.