The search and rescue operation to locate missing climbers Muhammad Ali Sadpara, John Snorri and Jon Pablo Mohr on K2 could not resume on Wednesday as bad weather persisted for the third straight day. Plans are underway to set up a team of six high-altitude porters (HAPs) from the Gilgit-Baltistan region to help with ground activities once the climbers are spotted using aerial search.
The mission is expected to resume tomorrow, if the weather permits, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said on Wednesday evening.
“Images taken by the Icelandic Aerospace Agency during the search operation for missing climbers are “unlikely to significantly affect the course of the search and help clarify the picture of what happened,” a Russian mountaineering blog Mountain.ru reported, along with a set of blurry images.
Harsh weather conditions are likely to continue in the coming day, with strong winds and low visibility making the search mission a hard task.
“Some of the best HAPs are being selected and chances are the team will be sent to the base camp by tomorrow. They will have to acclimatise first so that they are able to carry out activities,” Alpine Club of Pakistan (ACP) secretary Karrar Haideri told Dawn.com. A meeting in this regard took place at the DC Skardu office where Sajid Sadpara was also present.
The younger Sadpara is staying with his relatives in Skardu since his return from K2 on Feb 7 while his mother and three younger siblings are in the village, only meeting them briefly once.
Haideri and other sources said the grieving family has been told that Sajid is taking part in the rescue efforts. “The main reason for keeping Sajid in Skardu has to do with connectivity as phone reception in Sadpara is very poor,” the ACP official said.
Meanwhile, members of the mountaineering community and ACP urged media and social media users to respect the privacy of the families of missing climbers, particularly the family of Muhammad Ali Sadpara and avoid sharing fake or unverified reports.
Calling the video interviews of a visibly shaken Sajid insensitive, they said, “He needs psychological counseling and long term support to deal with this trauma. Rather than hounding him for interviews and asking insensitive questions, it’s best to give him space to grieve along with his family.”
In a Facebook post, John Snorri’s wife Lína Móey Bjarnadóttir said that she is still hopeful her husband will return home safely. “I have not given up and know that there is still room for a miracle because the week is not over, his camp will stay open until Saturday. Those who know John Snorri Sigurðsson know what strength he has and I hope that more people out there will give me the strength to try until we’ve tried everything.”
The three climbers lost contact with base camp late on Friday and were reported missing on Saturday after their support team stopped receiving reports from them during their ascent of the 8,611-metre high K2 mountain.
Since then, rescue operations have been ongoing but have been suspended due to harsh weather conditions.