Winter K2 Update: Team Leaving Base Camp, Search Suspended

K2 Abruzzi Route Map

Seven Summits Treks is leaving K2 Base Camp, thus ending their effort for a winter summit. The strongest climbers on their team gave it their best effort but no one summited the world’s second highest peak. Tragically two died in their effort. By my approximate count, 14 of the 20 “members” made an attempt.

This also blunts the search for the three missing climbers. John Snorri, Ali Sadpara, and Juan Pablo (JP) Mohr Prieto who remain missing with no trace.

Of course, as we all now know, there were summits of K2 on January 16 by a team of 9 Sherpas and one Magar. Nirmal Purja became the first person to summit K2 in the winter without supplemental oxygen. Mingma G Sherpa launched the effort with superior vision and ambition. All ten climbers worked together in a superb fashion to achieve the last winter summit of the 14 8000-meter peaks.

There is no official communication from Snorri or Ali or JP’s home teams to the public. This tragic event has brought many emotions to the surface for climbers and non-climbers alike. This is not the time for speculation or second-guessing. Similar to many alpine tragedies, we will probably never know the full story.

Search Continues

Even as Base Camp empties, the search for the missing three continues. Another helicopter reconnaissance, the third, found no trace once again after reaching over 7,000-meters. Meanwhile relatives of Ali, Pakistani climbers Imtiaz Hussain and Akbar Ali, cousin and nephew, were stuck at Camp 2 waiting out poor weather but have now returned to Base Camp. They hoped to climb to the Bottleneck, at least, searching for clues. Apparently, Snorri’s base camp cook staff will remain to support the searchers. But they are basically on their own. It’s unclear if they will try again with a week of bad weather in the forecast.

However, there seems to be ongoing government support. Raja Nasir Ali Khan, Minister for Tourism, Sports, Culture & Archeology, tweeted:

. #Alisadpara‘s very own Akbar and Imtiaz, who are the High Altitude climbers, had to retreat in face of the hostile weather. We using all choices with the help of our army, but it’s also important to accept that the chance of their survivability is evaporating along time. The rescue has been suspended for the time being due to bad weather, but it’s not over yet. It’s also important to let you know that the weather forecasts for next one week is not favourable. Anytime we get the weather window, the search will be resumed…

Dawa of SST gave this update on the end of their expedition:

Due to the continuous bad weather (forecast) further seven days more, Our expedition is off and we all are returning from basecamp toward Skardu. •Imtiaz and Akbar headed to high camp yesterday, cook, LO, kitchen boys from Jasmine tours (operator of John and Ali’s expedition) are still at basecamp supplying the supports. •Due to the bad weather, no helicopter search flight for today, when the weather permits the authorities will send more HAP for ground SAR. It’s been more than 90 hours, no news of the mountaineers Juan, Muhammad Ali, and John Snorri missing on K2 since last Friday.

The trek out is long, several days, but this one will feel even longer.

Manaslu: Big Winds at BC, Summit Push Soon

Simone Moro, Alex Txikon, and Iñaki Alvarez are at Manaslu Base Camp. They have the route fixed to 6650-meters. The winds are expected to ease and the climbers will go for their winter summit. Simone updated:

Very high winds wiped out part of our Base Camp. We worked all day to repair it and fix everything and we succeeded. The expedition can continue.

Climb On!
Memories are Everything


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18 thoughts on “Winter K2 Update: Team Leaving Base Camp, Search Suspended

  1. Hello Mr. Arnette,

    As far as the K2 tragedy I wonder if there was a chance they might have been blown off the mountain?
    Ali’s Sadpara son mentioned that winds increased in the evening when he was waiting in C3.
    A few years back when Bielecki and Galab were winter climbing one of the Gasherbruns, another party of three from Austria and Italy (?) disappeared while climbing another ridge a couple of hours “behind”. I do not remember reading about Sherpas team fixing a rope above the Bottleneck. Do we have information on wind conditions on during that period?
    I also read Sherpas reporting very strong winds during their summit push while the forecast called for low wind speeds? Thank you for sharing you thoughts on the subject.

  2. There is ironically a very good weather window from the 15 th for almost 5 days. Pity the lads didn’t wait for a better window. Racing a closing weather window is always dodgy on K2.
    All traces of the men will be unfortunately gone by summer, nothing stays in place due to the steepness, everything gets washed down to the glaciers. We will probably never know what happened to these courageous men. I certainly believe they made the top.

    1. It is exactly the same. I also checked it myself in mountain-forecast. Unfortunatly you can’t find a better window of 4 or 5 days in the Winter!!!

  3. Thank you Alan.

    I’m sorry this tragedy happened and I have endless sympathy for the family and friends of the men lost on the mountain.

    I wish i could rewind time and say to them “don’t go up today.” But they were there and they know best.

  4. Hi Alan,

    Just wondering why the SST team is leaving. They do have time till March 20, right? Is the long term weather forecast bad or do commercial teams function differently, meaning they only put in 1 or 2 summit attempts and not stay for as long as possible for potentially a few more weather windows?

    Thanks for the updates and all the work you do.

    On a different note, are you planning to go on any new climbs/projects/expeditions down the road?

    1. As I said in one post, the strongest climbers gave it their best and the rest seem content to not make an attempt. It’s time to go. As for me, maybe Peru in July.

  5. Unfortunately this tragedy makes it difficult to be excited about the previous successful summit. Even if there is little chance for rescue at this point, It would be nice to have some closure. Praying that the families of the missing will get at least that.

    1. There is no chance of rescue anyone now. Much safer will be doing search for bodies during summer, now it is very risky. Same situation was during first winter summit of Broad Peak, two people die and the search was done during summer (but in this case they even know where the bodies are)

  6. Alan, thank you very much for your outstanding coverage. Looking forward to the summer season K2 .

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