K2: Bad Weather Settles In

K2 Winter 8000ers
K2's upper slopes from the helicopter yesterday. Photo: Chhang Dawa Sherpa

With the departure of the main group of climbers today, K2 Base Camp has become a lonely, haunted place. Only John Snorri’s crew remains for a few more days on the windswept glacier. It’s a sad end to an endeavor that saw such joy and triumph just three weeks ago.

Bad weather has enveloped the Karakorum, scuttling the final searches. The helicopters have aborted their flights, and even Imtiaz Hussain and Akbar Ali — the cousin and nephew of Ali Sadpara — have finally retreated to Base Camp, fighting high winds along the way.

The search helicopter later returned to Skardu with Elia Sailkaly on board. The Canadian photographer and film producer had come to film John Snorri’s attempt to climb K2, but while he has plenty of footage, any film that results will be very different from what he had expected.

Elia Saikaly flew back to Skardu today. Photo: Elia Saikaly

Gilgit-Baltistan’s Minister of Tourism, Raja Nasir Ali Khan, notes that while no further flights are on tap in the near future because of the weather, the search is not over: “Anytime we get a weather window, [it] will resume,” he wrote. “But it’s also important to accept that the chances of their survival are evaporating.”

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About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Senior journalist, published author and communication consultant. Specialized on high-altitude mountaineering, with an interest for everything around the mountains: from economics to geopolitics. After five years exploring distant professional ranges, I returned to ExWeb BC in 2018. Feeling right at home since then!

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jmaf
jmaf
7 months ago

Prayers for the wives and 10 children of the fathers who won’t be coming home from K2 winter ’21.

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Daniel
Daniel
7 months ago

All thoughts with those left widowed and fatherless as a result of the choice to climb this mountain

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Sophie Hall
Sophie Hall
7 months ago

Utter tragedy for those children left without fathers.

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Sam
Sam
7 months ago

Prayers for the families

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Waverider37
Waverider37
7 months ago

Is it already clear why there were not enough tents in C3? Wonder how big a factor that’s been in this tragedy, with climbers starting the toughest summit of their live on zero sleep?

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Abs
Abs
7 months ago
Reply to  Waverider37

No one knows for sure. The reports are that SST sent their clients (with sherpas) up to C3 without extra tents, or enough tents.. that’s another 15 odd people there and 3 or 4 tents between them.. that is gross negligence.. considering that C3 hardly has space for 5 or 6 tents to be put up comfortably, I don’t see how that space could have accommodated 20+ people in the first place. A lot of comments on other blogs are asking for an investigation into how Sst tour team had conducted this ascent on Feb 2, 3 and 4. Right… Read more »

John A Mathews
John A Mathews
7 months ago

Thank you for your up-to-the-minute and passionate reporting. The world’s thoughts and prayers for the wives and children left behind.

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alp
alp
7 months ago

el inicio de la tragedia 2 tiendas para tanto escaladores en el campo3, John Snorri, llevaba su propio equipo y tuvo que compartir, mala noche sin espacio ni posibilidad de cocinar, el inicio de la tragedia.

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Paul
Paul
7 months ago

there is official press relase:
https://www.facebook.com/AAPORIK

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Sean
Sean
7 months ago

When will people realize that this mountain was not meant to be scaled? You’re not a coward if you say no to K2. You’re a coward if you make your kids fatherless.

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K2 mountaineers fan
7 months ago
Reply to  Sean

Sean then why you seen here…

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K2 mountaineers fan
7 months ago

Its sad to say Good bye Brave hearts 💕

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Irkku
Irkku
7 months ago

At this stage is there a best case scenario? is there a 1% chance they are still alive? could they have taken refuge somewhere? I am asking these questions with no knowledge of mountaineering but I have been following this story in hope like everyone else.

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guwinster
guwinster
7 months ago
Reply to  Irkku

The reality is that above roughly 7000 meters your body literally starts to die. The atmospheric pressure at 7000m is about 1/3 that at sea level. The oxygen content at that altitude is about 40% what it is at sea level. That is before you even consider the winter and technical conditions of most 7000+ meter mountains. Your organs literally start to break down at that altitude, and the three missing climbers were last seen even higher up the mountain at 8000m+. So, at this point even if they didn’t die from a fall or an avalanche or some act… Read more »

Abs
Abs
7 months ago
Reply to  guwinster

Sad. But everything you’ve said is true. RIP

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Irkku
Irkku
7 months ago
Reply to  guwinster

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I figured it was probably impossible but what would we have in life if we didn’t have hope, however as each day goes by with no sign of life is a day closer to confirming this is a lost cause unfortunately. May god bless them.

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Harold
Harold
7 months ago

Not sure if Snorri wanted to push for the summit, Ali Sadpara was employed as a porter to him and had ensure assistance no matter what. I heard they had an opportunity to move forth with the Nepalese team which succeeded but somehow didn’t? Maybe because of Snorri not having a good experience in his prior attempt with Sherpas ofcourse this is all conjecture, judging from the Elias descriptions in the posts Ali was the best climber amongst the three, maintained a good relationship with nirmal, would have been comfortable with the nepal team of 10, also they were at… Read more »

Nat
Nat
7 months ago
Reply to  Harold

Why, what happened with him and the Sherpas?

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Harold
Harold
7 months ago
Reply to  Nat

Snorri had went onto k2 expedition winter 2020 as well with mingma g
His Instagram posts about the called off exhibitions are very bitter and you can tell Snorri wasn’t happy about that even though mingma G had called it off for safety which was the right call at the end
You can find details on this on google
And therefore I assume he wasn’t comfortable with them and Ali was employed to him, he couldn’t summit without Snorri regardless thus they stayed back is what my guess is

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Abs
Abs
7 months ago
Reply to  Harold

Yes I’d like to know more about this as well. I’m not sure myself why they didn’t join the Jan 16 ascent, some say the were not acclimatised.. but then these guys were the first ones to arrive on Dec 5 before even the Nepalese did.. Also the Nepalese 10 were from different groups/ tours but ‘joined forces’ to do this together.. I’m not sure what that means? Were they assisting as Sherpa to other clients, or were they all planning a summit on their own? Also I find it a bit unusual that only Nepalese 10 decided to go… Read more »

Ann
Ann
7 months ago
Reply to  Abs

Here Tomaz Rotar gives an account on what happened in the winter 2020, which may explain Snorri’s reluctance to trust Nepali climbers: https://www.zobozdravnik.si/tomaz-rotar
This account does not put a now-cherished Nepali hero Mingma G in a good light. Also, according to O’Brady’s account it was Ali himself (and not only Snorri and JP), who was extremely pumped up to pursue the summit push.

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Abs
Abs
7 months ago
Reply to  Ann

Thanks for sharing this post – it does give a view i wasn’t ready to accept but at another site i’ve expressed my concern on how the Nepalese 10 were the only ones that went up there in the window of Jan 16 – something doesn’t add up.], why didn’t the others agree to go up .. also its said that when the nepalese sherpas arrived, they didn’t talk much about their plans just started climbing for rotation while others were taking their time. I can understand why Ali would be pumped because he was just promised reward and future… Read more »

Harold
Harold
7 months ago
Reply to  Ann

I can’t seem to find the account where o Brady specifically mentioned Ali being pumped for the summit
All other indications tell me it was Snorri who wanted this really bad I might be wrong therefore I’m asking for a link

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Ann
Ann
7 months ago
Reply to  Harold

O’Brady’s friend writes about it: https://jonkedrowski.com/blog/f/preparing-to-leaving-k2—with-a-heavy-heart. I do not get, why it is so hard to accept for some people that summiting K2 in winter was a dream that both John Snorri and Ali shared and it weren’t just the pecuniary and job-related motives that were motivating Mr. Sadpara.

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Harold
Harold
7 months ago
Reply to  Ann

The tomar article really explained why it might have been Snorri who pushed for the summit and Ali being his usual non confrontational self obliged, knowing the dangers sent his in back from the bottleneck maybe he had a sixth sense sent him back, also explains why they didn’t go for summit on jan 16, Ali was an older brother to nirmal, and how much nirmal admires Ali you can tell that he was strong enough but was held back like he has always been And now we have a tragedy at our hand God bless them and the bravery… Read more »

Sad Man
Sad Man
7 months ago

I’m really sorry for the families, children and friends that won’t see the 3 beloved climbers. But is it just wrong now to find hope? it’s been too long since they were last seen and no amount of shelter or bivouac will help the conditions that are there at the mountain now. They don’t have tents, food, warming equipment or anything and none of this was planned to be provided at C4 or C3 .. infact there’s a reason why the winter push is done from C3 directly, because it’s not humanly possible to stay alive that long above 7200m… Read more »

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