Sun, Jan 28, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Bid to rescue climbers on Pakistan peak to start

‘KILLER MOUNTAIN’:A crowdfunding campaign has raised US$78,000 to help get two foreign climbers off Nanga Parbat, where perceived temperatures can reach minus-60°C


Efforts to rescue a Polish man and a French woman stuck on a treacherous peak in northern Pakistan known to mountaineers as “Killer Mountain” were set to begin yesterday, officials said.

Tomasz Mackiewicz from Poland and Elisabeth Revol of France were attempting to ascend the 8,126m Nanga Parbat in Pakistan’s Himalaya mountain range.

Four members from a team of Polish climbers attempting the first winter ascent of nearby K2, the world’s second-highest mountain, are to assist in the rescue operation after a Pakistani army helicopter picks them up from their base camp and flies them to Nanga Parbat.

“They will be brought from K2 to Nanga Parbat and the operation will begin,” Asghar Porik of Jasmine Tours said on Friday.

Separately, Pakistani tourism official Iqbal Hussain said the operation was to begin yesterday.

Mackiewicz and Revol got stuck at the 7,400m mark, from where they used a satellite telephone to call for help, Alpine Club of Pakistan spokesman Karrar Haidri said.

Masha Gordon, coordinator of a crowdfunding campaign for the rescue operation, said Revol managed to bring Mackiewicz down to 7,280m and set him up in a tent to spend the night.

“Eli is in the process of descending down and has last communicated from 6,671m,” Gordon said. “Although she has no tent, she is clearly lucid and is making progress on a descent to help get the rescue effort under way.”

Janusz Majer, who helped prepare the Polish expedition team scaling K2, said that messages sent by Revol said Mackiewicz was experiencing snow blindness and frostbite.

“He hid himself in a crevasse to seek protection from wind. Tomasz in the past has spent a couple of nights above 7,000m, but with all the needed equipment,” Majer said.

The crowdfunding campaign had by Friday evening raised about 62,500 euros (US$77,669), exceeding its target of 60,000 euros within several hours. The Polish government also said it would provide financial guarantees and support for the rescue operation.

Mackiewicz has made six previous attempts to scale Nanga Parbat in winter, where perceived temperatures can reach minus-60°C. The first successful winter ascent of the mountain was made as recently as February 2016.

Pakistan rivals Nepal for the number of peaks higher than 7,000m.

A Spanish man and an Argentinian in June last year perished in an avalanche while trying to scale Nanga Parbat.

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