Daring rescue of climber stuck on Killer Mountain

A Pakistani military helicopter sets off in an attempt to rescue the two stranded climbers, although attempts to save the second mountaineer were later called off because of the extreme danger posed to rescuers by the altitude and weather.
A Pakistani military helicopter sets off in an attempt to rescue the two stranded climbers, although attempts to save the second mountaineer were later called off because of the extreme danger posed to rescuers by the altitude and weather.PHOTO: REUTERS
The search for Mr Tomasz Mackiewicz has been called off.
The search for Mr Tomasz Mackiewicz has been called off.

ISLAMABAD • An elite group of climbers saved a French mountaineer in a daring high-altitude rescue mission on Pakistan's Nanga Parbat, one of the highest mountains in the world, as officials called off the search for a second missing alpinist yesterday.

The group of Polish climbers launched the effort on Saturday afternoon to rescue stranded French mountaineer Elisabeth Revol, but could not reach Polish national Tomasz Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat, nicknamed "Killer Mountain".

"The rescue for Tomasz is unfortunately not possible - because of the weather and altitude it would put the life of rescuers in extreme danger. It's a terrible and painful decision," wrote Mr Ludovic Giambiasi, a friend of Ms Revol, in a series of updates on Facebook.

The rescue involved four mountaineers flown by the Pakistani military from the base camp of K2 - the world's second-highest peak - to reach the stranded climbers.

"The K2 climbers who stopped their historic effort for a winter K2 summit will descend with Elisabeth Revol - one life saved," Alpine Club of Pakistan spokesman Karar Haideri said yesterday.

The team was evacuated by helicopter after a 51/2-hour descent. They were then airlifted to the nearby town of Skardu.

Mr Asghar Ali Porik of Jasmine Tours, who helped organise the K2 expedition, said she "has frostbite and some (snow) blindness".

Pakistani climber Karim Shah said the rescue effort was unique in the history of mountaineering, with the team climbing 1,200m in complete darkness along a treacherous route without a fixed rope.

"No one did such a climb before," Mr Shah said. "Most people, it takes two or three days, and they did it in eight hours in the darkness."

The rescue mission was launched when mountaineers using binoculars on Friday spotted Ms Revol attempting to climb down as Mr Mackiewicz appeared to be crawling due to frostbite.

Nanga Parbat is the world's ninth-highest mountain at 8,125m. It was nicknamed Killer Mountain after more than 30 climbers died trying to conquer it before the first successful summit in 1953.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 29, 2018, with the headline 'Daring rescue of climber stuck on Killer Mountain'. Print Edition | Subscribe