Renowned Pakistani mountaineer Muhammad Ali Sadpara, who has proudly hoisted the country’s flag on eight peaks, was announced missing on Friday while attempting a K2 summit. He was with his two companions, John Snorri from Iceland and MP Mohr from Chile. A rescue team, led by Canadian filmmaker Elia Saikaly remained unsuccessful in their efforts on Sunday to locate the missing men, who have not been in touch since midnight between Thursday and Friday when they began their push to K2 summit from their camp 3. Ali’s son Sajid Sadpara was also on the expedition with them but turned back sooner due to lack of oxygen.
Through a social media post, SST expedition team leader Chhang Dawa Sherpa said on Sunday, “Today, 1st flight by Army in the morning with Elia Saikaly made it up to 7000m and second flight in the afternoon by 2 helicopters (along with Sajid Sadpara and I) made a search (with an aerial reconnaissance) for an hour up to its maximum limit: 7,800m to locate missing climbers Ali, John Snorri, and Juan Pablo Mohr in K2.” He added, “The search team went through the Abruzzi and other routes, we had less weather visibility above C 4, unfortunately, no trace at all, the wind above 6,400m is still 40KM.” Saikaly has been at the base camp for the last two weeks to make a documentary on Ali and his son about their accomplishments. He Saikaly has taken pictures of the areas they have searched and the pictures are being analysed.
After a rescue operation, Sajid arrived in his hometown Skardu on Saturday evening where he spoke at a press conference. He said, “I think search operation should continue for the bodies of the climbers as chances of their survival are limited.” Sajid added that the K2 winter expedition had started on Dec 5 last year. “From Dec 12, we were trying to summit K2 in winter and this was our second attempt. We started K2 summit push on Feb 5 at 12am. I, my father, Mr Snorri and Mr Mohr were on the bottleneck while other climbers had descended. I was without bottled oxygen at the altitude of 8,200 metres. Then I realised my health can deteriorate due to lack of oxygen. My father told me to use an oxygen bottle which he carried for another climber. Then oxygen regulator leaked and I decided to descend to camp 3.”
Recalling the last time they crossed paths during the expedition, Sajid stated, “Last time I saw the climbers at the bottleneck. I started return from the bottleneck at around 12pm and arrived at camp 3 at 5pm. I informed the base camp through satellite communication that I have returned to camp 3 and my father and other members of the team are going to summit K2. I could not communicate with the climbers because their communication devices were not functioning.” He mentioned he was waiting at camp 3 for the climbers and making arrangements of water and other things for them. “I kept the camp light on at night so that they may come to the camp noticing the light. However, on Saturday morning, I informed the base camp manager that the climbers had not returned so far.” He concluded, “My father and two other climbers were crossing the bottleneck, the most technical part of K2, at 11am on Friday, I am sure they went missing while descending from the summit.”
Search and rescue attempts for the missing mountaineers have been ongoing for the last 48 hours. Saikaly said, “Pakistani Military Pilots have been encircling K2, high above the basecamp searching for our friends. Yesterday, I embarked on one of the SAR mission with pilots who identified few potential leads that synced up with the yellow and red down suits that Johan and Ali were wearing. From a great distance it proved to be a solid lead but unfortunately with telephoto lens, close flyby and extended views later on laptop shows that these leads turned out to be a similarly coloured tent, sleeping bag and mat. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions at the basecamp, anticipating a miracle, praying somehow that John, Ali and Pablo are still alive.”