Tragedy on Gasherbrum II, 2009 climbing season – No hopes left for missing Luis M. Barbero.

Luis María Barbero, from Alcoy (Alicante, Spain) was sharing permit with a larger international group, comprising mostly Spaniards. However, they were not a single expedition, but several groups or independent climber sharing BC and, eventually, climbing plans on GI and GII. Veteran Carlos Soria and Marta Alejandre were also members in the team, with GI as main goal.

Jul 24, 2009
(K2Climb.net/Madrid) There is news on the Spanish mountaineer reported missing during a summit push on GII last Sunday. Luis M. Barbero was last seen near the summit; all searching/rescue attempts have been thwarted by bad weather and high avalanche risks since then, according to expedition mates in BC Sechu Lopez and Marta Alejandre.  Gasherbrums BC

On reports posted today, Marta and Sechu confirm there are no hopes left to find him alive.

“Facts have been extremely confusing during the last three days, since we first heard of Luis being possibly missing,” Carlos Soria’s partner Marta Alejandre added. “It’s incredible how you can be so close on the mountain and so far at the same time. Fact is, any attempt to search for him has proved impossible due to bad weather and high avalanche risk. The helicopter has been grounded until now, although we hope it will take off soon in order to search from the air along the route. After all this time though, we’ve lost all hope to find Luis alive.”

Sechu Lopez’ report from BC

Fellow Spaniard Sechu Lopez has posted an events’ timeline on his bedsite, gathering all (few) available details since Luis set off on a summit bid last Sunday, to the current situation:

“Monday, July 20th, a large Iranian group left C3 towards GII summit – Luis and a Polish climber followed behind,” Sechu reccounted. “In the afternoon, weather conditions were tough, mostly due to wind. Apparently the group progressed at a very slow pace. At 7:30 pm the Polish climber intently asked Luis to turn back. Luis was however completely focused on the summit, which he had failed to reach one year before (missing it for just 300 meters) and continued.”

“All other members in our team were in CB by then. After dinner we heard that 14 people had summited, Luis among them. We were surprised to hear that so many people had topped out in such wind conditions, but we were happy for Luis anyway.”

“On Tuesday, July 21th, it started to snow in the morning. GII’s upper slopes were wrapped in clouds and the lower glacier was in poor conditions, so we thought all summiteers would be waiting in some higher camp for conditions to improve, before returning to BC.”

”In the afternoon, contradictory news started to pour: rumor was that there were two missing climbers – Luis might be one of them. We asked for further details. Indeed, Luis was last seen very high up on the mountain; the Polish climber had remained in C4’ location (with no tents set up) for a while waiting for him – then eventually climbed down until the next camp (C3), where he spent the night. “

“Bad weather forced everyone on the mountain down to C1. Hours went by; then days passed. Snow kept on falling – no one in C1 was able to climb back up to C2 in order to look for Luis, since loads of unstable fresh snow made the route extremely dangerous.”

“We felt powerless. There was nothing we could do but to accept the tragic turnout of events.”

“Funny enough, probably nobody summited that day,” Sechu noted. “The five Iranian climbers claim summit, although they said they had turned around 50 meters shy from the real top. We will never know whether Luis topped out, although we would like to believe he had at least his so longed-for moment of glory. None of us really got to know him well, but (I am sure) he was a good man. Good-bye, mate.”

* see – Tragedy in the Himalaya, 2009 climbing season.

* Read these stories – and more! – at ExplorersWeb.com

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