Pakistani mountaineer Ali Sadpara and his two companions, John Snorri of Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile were reported missing during their ascent of 8,611-metre high K2 mountain, also referred to as "killer mountain."
An aerial search is underway to find three experienced climbers who lost contact with base camp during what would be only the second winter ascent of K2, the world's second highest mountain, officials said.
Karrar Haideri, a top official with the Alpine Club of Pakistan, said on Sunday that army helicopters resumed the search in northern Pakistan that began a day earlier for Pakistani mountaineer Ali Sadpara and his two companions, John Snorri of Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile.
K2 - 8.611m summit push on the 5th February , Friday morning after noon PKT. Please follow us https://t.co/tEBxpdLl2c— John Snorri (@john_snorri) February 4, 2021
Finally summit push has started ❤️@john_snorri @ali_sadpara @EliaSaikaly pic.twitter.com/r0KM126iIi
The three lost contact with base camp late on Friday and were reported missing on Saturday after their support team stopped receiving reports from them during their ascent of the 8,611-metre high K2 mountain, also referred to as "killer mountain."
K2, located in the Karakorum mountain range, is one of the most dangerous climbs. Last month, a team of 10 Nepalese climbers made history by scaling the K2 for the first time in winter.
"The base camp received no signals from Sadpara and his foreign companions after 8,000 meters ... . A search is on and let's pray for their safe return home," Haideri told The Associated Press.
On Saturday, choppers flew to a height of 7,000 metres to try to locate the missing mountaineers with no success.
Search & rescue teams are actively looking for Ali Sadpara,John Snorri & JP Mohr. Weather conditions aren’t favourable so it’s not an easy mission. We have support of Pakistan Army and will be doing everything possible to get them home safely.— Sayed Z Bukhari (@sayedzbukhari) February 6, 2021
Keep praying Pakistan!#K2winter2021 pic.twitter.com/lFjGkGs9mi
Diplomats speak about fate of climbers
Pakistan's Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying Iceland's Foreign Minister Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson, spoke to his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, by telephone.
Qureshi assured him that Pakistan would spare no effort in the search for the missing mountaineers.
Sadpara and his team left the base camp on February 3, a month after their first attempt to scale the mountain failed because of weather conditions.
Mount Everest vs K2
Although Mount Everest is 237 metres taller than K2, the K2 mountain is much farther north on the border with China and subject to worse weather conditions, according to mountaineering experts.
They say a winter climb is particularly dangerous because of the unpredictable and rapid change in weather conditions.
Winter winds on K2 can blow at more than 200 kph (125 mph) and temperatures can drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius. In one of the deadliest mountaineering events ever, 11 climbers died in a single day trying to scale K2 in 2008.
Haideri said Sadpara's son, Sajid, had returned to the base camp safely after his oxygen regulator malfunctioned at 8,000 metres.
Haideri noted Sadpara's experience as a mountaineer who has climbed the world's eight highest mountains, including the highest, Mount Everest in the Himalayas and was attempting to climb K2 in winter.