Tragedy on K2, 2008 climbing season – Pakistan wrap-up. More from K2.

Pakistan wrap-up

Aug 04, 2008
( To their credit, media reports yesterday quickly changed their statements from “11 confirmed dead” to 11 “feared” dead on K2. The really good news is that 2 reportedly missing Austrians were found in BC. The exact number of fatalities is expected to be confirmed within a few days, after all rescue attempts have been exhausted and a head-count has been performed among the teams.

Askari Aviation reports that Wilco, Cas and Nabeen were urgently evacuated earlier today. Norit reports that Marco is still on his way down.

K2: Wilco and Cas evacuated – Marco not yet in BC

Wilco and Cas reached BC yesterday together with Pemba, assisted by a support group which included their team mates Roeland and Jelle. Extent of the climbers’ frostbites is yet unknown.

At the team’s latest update, Italian Marco Confortola was still being helped down to BC. He climbed down from C4 to C2 yesterday.

A team of climbers (including Dutch team member Roeland) went up from BC to C1 on the Cesen route yesterday, loaded with equipment.

The crew in BC is also arranging a plane to fly by the flanks of K2, hoping to locate more missing climbers on both routes. Some climbers were reportedly still on their way down the Abruzzi Spur yesterday.

The Norit team also reported that sadly, Norwegian Rolf Bae’s death has been been confirmed by wife Cecilie Skog.

full story

K2 : Fredrik Strang’s tale of Pakistani guide’s fatal fall.

Aug 04, 2008
( When tragedies occur high up on 8000ers, climbers are forced to try and save their own lives first. The strong at best try and help mates in trouble. Bodies are never lowered in such situations, in order to not put at risk more lives.

In spite of people in need; according to an article in Swedish Aftonbladet this Sunday, a Pakistani expedition guide lost his life following a decision by Swedish Fredrik Strang to try and lower the dead body of Serb climber Dren Mandic from 8000+ meters on K2’s slopes.

According to the article, Fredrik Strang and his team decided to not attempt a summit push due to shifting weather, when word came in their camp at about 8000 meters that a climber had died a few hundred meters up. Parts of the group left for the Bottleneck to help transport down the deceased.

“On arrival, they meet exhausted and hypothermic people,” states the story. “Fredrik takes command and the risky operation of transporting the [dead] friend begins.”

full story

Marco in BC for emergency evacuation, hope for more survivals fading.

Aug 05, 2008
( “My brother is in BC, waiting to be airlifted,” Marco Confortola’s brother Luigi told ExWeb from Italy this morning. Meanwhile, Pakistani pilots are in a state of alert in Skardu.

“The weather in Skardu and the Baltoro is inclement,” Lt Col(R)Ilyas Ahmad Mirza, General Manager of Askari Aviation, told ExplorersWeb. “Helicopters are at hi-alert and will move as soon as the weather clears.”

Marco coming down

Pakistans’ “Fab 5” (or rather “amazing four”) is a nickname international climbers have for a bunch of Askari pilots known for striking high altitude rescues in Karakoram’s thin air. There’s nothing in the world like them; their choppers go higher and closer than anyone in Himalaya, the Andes, Rockies or the Alps.

Yesterday, pilots picked up Confortola’s mate Roberto Manni and took him on a surveillance flight across K2’s slopes to locate Marco, previously spotted between C2 and C1.

Marco managed to reach ABC and then BC at last, helped down from C1 by two Pakistani porters, Mario Panzeri and Eric Meyer. According to his home team, Confortola was barely able to put on his boots. His feet are obviously badly frostbitten and he will be diagnosed and treated in the same Skardu hospital from where Wilco has started to share his tale about the fateful night in and above the Bottleneck.

Initial mix-up in the fixing of ropes on summit push reportedly caused a delay and late arrival to summit for some. Some media headlined Wilco’s brief as stating that lack of preparations had caused the accidents. In light of past accusations the Norit home team asks for interviews to hold until climbers are in better shape to give a clear picture.

At this point, a wrapup of events indicates one climber lost in a climbing fall on ascent, one porter lost in attempts to lower the body, two or three lost in the avalanche on descent and around 6 climbers lost in its aftermath, while trying to find their way through the ice rubble to camp 4.

More from K2.

As the reality of events on K2 from this past weekend begins to descend on the mountaineering community, the fog has begun to lift somewhat, and we’re starting to hear more of the details. This morning, Everest News as posted a list of casualties that they claim has been confirmed by the Ministry of Tourism in Pakistan. You can read that list here. Personally, I’m a bit reluctant to post the names myself, until all is known, but the list does fall into line with the sketchy reports we’ve been hearing.

full story

Latest news :

1 Helicopters save two Dutch climbers after K2 tragedy – AFP
Monday, August 04, 2008
Helicopters save two Dutch climbers after K2 tragedy - AFP

GILGIT, Pakistan (AFP) — Rescuers airlifted two frostbitten Dutch climbers to safety from K2 on Monday, but were unable to reach an Italian stranded by an ice fall that killed 11 men on the world’s second highest peak.

The Pakistani military mounted a dramatic helicopter operation to save survivors of the deadliest disaster to hit the 8,611-metre (28,251-foot) Himalayan summit, regarded as far more dangerous to scale than Mount Everest.

The Dutch mountaineers were helped down to base camp by team members and Pakistani guides from a position near the summit overnight, army officer Captain Azimullah Beg told AFP from the 5,200-metre camp.

“They were then picked up by army helicopter from base camp this morning and have now been shifted to hospital for treatment for severe frostbite,” said Beg, identifying the climbers as Wilco Van Rooijen and Cas van de Gevel. 

But the military helicopters were later grounded by a dust storm at their base in the northern city of Skardu and were unable to evacuate Italian climber Marco Confortola, officials said.

Italy’s ANSA news agency, citing members of his climbing team, reported that Confortola had reached an upper camp at 6,100 metres, but was unable to go further.

“His condition is not good. He has some bruises and frostbite and exhaustion,” Brigadier Mohammad Akram, vice president of Adventure Foundation Pakistan, a tour organiser, told AFP.

“If he is unable to get to advanced base camp tomorrow, from where a helicopter can evacuate him, then he might be sling-lifted. But this is a very technical operation and needs a lot of preparation,” he said.

Italian embassy spokesman Oddo Sergio said Confortola “has some problems with his arms and legs due to freezing. An attempt will be made tomorrow to rescue him.”

Agostino Da Polenza, a member of Confortola’s team quoted by ANSA, said after talking to the stranded climber on a rescuer’s telephone that his “voice sounded strong and clear”.

The climbers who died in Friday’s avalanche were three South Koreans, two Nepalis, two Pakistanis, a Serbian, an Irishman, a Norwegian and a Frenchman, officials said.

The disaster happened when a pillar of ice broke away in a steep gully known as the Bottleneck near the summit and swept away fixed lines used by the mountaineers as they made their descent on Friday.

“At least 11 climbers have died. This is one of the worst incidents in the history of K2 climbing,” Pakistani mountain guide Sultan Alam told AFP.

The deadliest year to date on the peak on the Pakistan-China border was in 1986, when 13 climbers died in a series of incidents.

An Austrian climber at K2 base camp said he was aware of 12 deaths resulting from Friday’s avalanche, although the figure was not confirmed by Pakistani officials.

“The mood at the camp is obviously very low,” Christian Stangl was quoted as saying by Austria’s APA news agency. “Every expedition has lost at least one or two people.”

A Swedish climber who survived said there were too many inexperienced climbers on the mountain, widely acknowledged as much harder to climb than Everest despite being a few hundred metres shorter. full story

2. has posted : Third climber rescued on K2

An Italian climber who survived the deadly avalanche on K2, the world’s second highest mountain, was plucked from the slopes and flown to safety Tuesday. full story

3. K2 climbers froze to death hanging upside down on ropes –

One of the mountaineers to survive the disastrous K2 expedition has described how he witnessed stranded climbers freezing to death hanging upside down on ropes as his own survival instinct kicked in to take him off the mountain.
Wilco Van Rooijen, a Dutch climber, said fatal errors while preparing for the final ascent contributed to the deaths of 11 climbers after they had spent four nights on the world’s second highest mountain, which is considered a far more daunting challenge than Mount Everest. full story

4. Alaskan Climber Presumed Dead On K2.

Jamey Kirk
Story Created: Aug 4, 2008 at 9:03 PM AKDT ; Story Updated: Aug 4, 2008 at 9:03 PM AKDT

A 37-year-old computer engineer from Anchorage, is presumed dead near the peak of K2. Ger McDonnell was an Irish native who moved to Alaska about 10 years ago.

According to eye witness accounts, McDonnell was swept off the mountain Friday when a giant piece of ice fell from above and sliced through fixed ropes on one of the more dangerous parts of the climb. Nine people were confirmed to have been killed. full story

5. Stranded Italian climber reaches K2 base camp

Aug 5, 2008, 7:31 GMT
Islamabad – An Italian climber who was stranded after an avalanche on K2, the world’s second highest mountain, managed to descend to base camp on Tuesday, officials said. … more

* Previous post : – Tragedy on Karakoram – Several climbers dead or missing on K2.Tragedia na K2: Szef wyprawy ocalał. /Version english and polish/

** Read these stories – and more! – at

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2 Responses

  1. Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language 😉
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

  2. Anonymous said…
    i am sorry for the loss of life, let’s get this straight. bunch rich ($$$) brats, take up this deadly “sport” for a pasttime, when they get THEMSELVES dead or trapped the rest of us normal prople are supposed to feel some feeling?

    i really don’t care what the rich daredevels think, do or pay for

    they family take responnsibilty, did you ever hear of a wife or child forbid behavior or throw them out?

    if these rich pukes were sticking needles in they arm loaded with deadly heroin, or hanging off a 8 inch ledge 27000 feet in the sky, both is self destructive actions, regard’s to the first is draging a porter or sherpa along to risk they life also

    then these rich a-holes dirty up the pristine mountains with they doo-doo, urine filled water bottles, spend oxygen tanksm food wrapers….they say evrest, K2..all the big mountains are dirty with trash waist deep in some spots, these nature loving, mountain loving rich creeps do not clean up after themselves, they dont even wipe they bottoms when they do the nasty because they dont want to hump the toilet paper, when they do wipe, they leave the dirty TP up on K2, to be frozen and stAY in the spot for 200 years, along with they food wrapers, oxygen bottles, old clothes, plastric bags, all polution to the natural enveroment they procalim to love so much, the lower seat side of NYC gutters are cleaner then these mountains the rich have screwed up for the last 100 years

    the rich retards even leave they dead assiocastes bodys up there

    what a bunch of self absorbed ninney’s….i really don’t give a hoot about them, they familys, they sport or they dirty polluted mountain tops

    please, all you….go jump off a cliff!!
    long island NY (US)

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