After having no contact for two days, the home team and base camp crew for British climber Tom Ballard, 30, and Italian Daniele Nardi, 42, have asked for help to search for them. They were attempting a new route on the Mummery Rib – a steep, avalanche-prone area known for taking lives.
The two climbers arrived at base camp in December but made little progress due to harsh weather and deep snow along the route. Two Pakistani climbers on their team left a few weeks ago citing the difficult conditions and poor weather forecast.
Their last known position was near 6,300-meters between Camp 4 and Camp 3 according to Nardi’s wife who received a satellite phone call from him on Friday, February 22. Low clouds and snow shrouded the view from base camp where their two cooks and Liaison Officer have been using binoculars to search the area. Today, with better conditions, the two were not spotted.
To complicate the search, a dispute between India and Pakistan escalated over the last two days with Pakistan shooting down two India fighter jets thus closing the air space around Nanga Parbat to rescue helicopters. Through diplomatic efforts, an exception was made to allow a rescue helicopter to conduct an air search. It will begin tomorrow, February 28 with Pakistani mountaineer, Ali Sadpara, on board. He was on the team that made the first winter summit of Nanga Parbat two years ago.
This is Nardi’s fourth attempt on the Mummery Rib. Ballard is known as one of the world’s finest climbers and solo climbed all six of the Alp’s major north faces in one winter, a first. Ballard is the son of famed British alpinist Alison Hargreaves who in 1995 was the first woman to summit Everest without supplemental oxygen. She died a few months later attempting the world’s second highest peak, K2.
Their home team made this report on their progress to C3 on February 24:
Daniele Just informed us that they arrived at about 6300 meters, maybe even something more! They climbed along a fireplace different from the one up with Elisabeth. They went on light, now they’re going down to c4. The weather is not good, there was fog, sleet and wind gusts. The last position that Daniele managed to send us was little lower than the one indicated on the photo, then continued in the climb for another hour, the position in red is therefore an approximation.
Nanga Parbat has a deadly reputation. In 1895 British climber Albert F. Mummery died on Nanga Parbat along with two fellow climbers. Last winter Polish climber Tomasz Mackiewicz died during a winter attempt and his partner, French alpinist Elisabeth Revol was rescued in a dramatic effort by climbers who left their K2 attempt to render aid. In 2013, ten foreign climbers and base camp staff were executed by 15 Taliban extremists at base camp.
Memories are Everything