ISLAMABAD (REUTERS) – Pakistani officials said three climbers missing on the K2 mountain had died, calling off an extraordinary rescue mission that had involved the military and international mountaineers since the group lost contact on Feb 5.
Muhammad Ali Sadpara, 45, of Pakistan, John Snorri, 47, of Iceland, and Juan Pablo Mohr, 33, of Chile, were last seen just 300 metres short of the summit of K2, the world’s second-highest mountain.
It is believed the group reached the summit but encountered a problem on the way down.
“So far we were searching and hoping to find them alive, but today we have officially declared them dead, so that will stop,” Raja Nasir Ali Khan, minister of Minister for Tourism for Gilgit-Baltistan, the northern region where the climbers went missing.
The search for the bodies of the climbers will continue, Khan said.
The three were last seen by Sadpara’s son, 20-year-old Sajid, who had to turn around because of an oxygen supply malfunction.
“My family and I have lost a kindhearted person and the Pakistani nation has lost a brave and great adventurous individual who was passionate about climbing,” Sajid said.
The search operation included Pakistani military helicopters flying up and down the mountain, and an F-16 plane to photograph the ground to look for clues to where they might have taken shelter.
Extremely low temperatures and gusting winds make it nearly impossible to survive on K2 for more than few days.
It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform today February 18, 2021 our missing climbers in K2: John Snorri, Juan Pablo Mohr and my brother, Muhammad Ali Sadpara, have been pronounced dead, after 13 days of search. I can’t put into words my feelings, or even how grateful… pic.twitter.com/h71ok27p9U
— Moirah Ahmad (@moirahahmad) February 18, 2021
Tributes to Ali Sadpara poured in on Thursday (Feb 18), and his death was the top trend on Twitter in Pakistan.
Pop singer Ali Zafar released a song as a tribute to the climber, who many credited with helping put Pakistani climbers on the world stage.
Abrar-ul-Haq, another singer and politician, pledged to see through Sadpara’s dream of building a school in his village, located in a remote part of the country’s mountainous north not far from K2.
I have just heard the news that Muhammad Ali Sadpara wanted to build a school in his village after his mission therefore we have decided to fulfil his dream and Inshahallah a school will be built in the village of our hero in his memory.#muhammadalisadpara pic.twitter.com/0A2X6eJOZg
— Abrar Ul Haq (@AbrarUlHaqPK) February 15, 2021
Two other climbers died trying to scale K2 this winter: Bulgarian Atanas Skatov and Spanish climber Sergio Mingote. And in January, American Alex Goldfarb-Rumyantzev died on a mountain nearby.