The families of missing climbers Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Jon Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr said that after “72 gruelling hours of non-stop intensive efforts” that were suspended the day before due to bad weather, they made the tough decision to continue with their rescue mission.
The hopes for the three climbers’ safety were dwindling as dark clouds on Tuesday began to obscure K2. As Tuesday marks the 34th birthday of Chilean climber Mohr, the dimming optimism was especially poignant.
Late on Friday, the three lost contact with the base camp and were declared missing on Saturday after their support staff began getting messages from them while scaling the second-highest mountain in the world.
The search and rescue operation for the three climbers will resume on Tuesday, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) official, until the weather improves and all capabilities at the disposal of the military have been mobilised.
The Ecureuil helicopters currently undertaking the task are unable to fly above 7,000 m, while the climbers are believed to be at an altitude of 8,100 m above the bottleneck, the official added.
“A special forward-looking infrared (FLIR) mission by a C-130 aircraft was scheduled yesterday. However, at that altitude and temperature, the FLIR can not operate,” read an update shared by the ISPR.
In the meantime, Karrar Haidri, secretary of the Alpine Club, said the task would proceed, but bad weather conditions make the exercise challenging. “Today it is very cloudy and visibility is low. He added, “Hopefully the weather will change.
Families grateful for ‘concern, compassion’
In the meantime, the three climbers’ families released a statement thanking everyone for their assistance and expressing the expectation that the mission would resume within the shortest possible timeline.
We would like to thank anyone who expressed interest in the climbing of Jon, Ali and JP, and those who expressed concern for their well-being, those who offered support (especially Alex Găvan) and those who prayed for their safety and offered ideas and thoughts on the use of drones and search sites. “We have heard and appreciate the care, concern and compassion you have shown,” said the press release.
The declaration added that British-American climber Vanessa O’Brien, who also acts as the Goodwill Ambassador of Pakistan and summited K2 with Snorri, organised search and rescue operations for the missing climbers and offered assistance to the families through a virtual base camp.
“We were lucky to receive Hi-Res Satellite SAR imagery at our virtual base camp. In previous rescue operations, SAT imagery has been used, but no one has ever used SAR imagery like this before. Owing to extreme weather temperatures and excessive winds, it gave us the right visual acuity to see places inaccessible to helicopters,” the press release said.
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We supplemented this information with feedback from other technical instruments brought by the climbers along with witness interviews to establish a timeframe of the positions of the climbers during their summit attempt,’ the statement added.
“We are grateful to the Pakistan Army pilots who pushed the upper limits during each of these search flights for six helicopter flights,” the statement said, thanking Army Chief of Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Pakistan Army and all those who helped the mission.