Monday 18 June 2018

Dad-of-three missing on Pakistan's 'Killer Mountain' after aborted rescue mission

  • Kildare climber missing on Pakistan's 'Killer Mountain'
  • Wife thanks rescue teams for trying to save her husband
  • Tomasz Mackiewicz (43) was in a critical condition after suffering from acute mountain sickness
  • Polish national lives outside of Naas with his wife and their three children
Tomasz Mackiewicz during his climb on Nanga Parbat mountain in Pakistan in January 2014. Picture: Reuters
Tomasz Mackiewicz during his climb on Nanga Parbat mountain in Pakistan in January 2014. Picture: Reuters
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

The wife of a Kildare-based mountain climber who is missing following an aborted rescue mission on a treacherous Himalayan peak known as 'Killer Mountain' has thanked those who tried to save her husband.

Anna Antonina Solska said she was "deeply grateful" to the elite rescue team who tried to save her husband Tomasz (Tomek) Mackiewicz (43) from Pakistan's Nanga Parbat - the ninth highest mountain in the world - after he got into difficulty on Friday.

Mr Mackiewicz, a Polish national who lives outside of Naas with his wife and their three children, was in a critical condition after suffering from acute mountain sickness due to the lack of oxygen at high altitude as he was attempting to descend the mountain.

He is also believed to have suffered frostbite and snow blindness as he and French climber Elisabeth Revol tackled their descent of the mountain.

Ms Revol was forced to abandon him on the mountain, but managed to contact a Polish rescue team by satellite phone who rescued her on Saturday, suffering from severe frostbite.

Polish climbers Dennis Urubko and Adam Bielecki, who were part of an elite group of K2 climbers, managed to scramble up the death-defying rock face at night despite -40C temperatures after they were dropped off by a Pakistan military helicopter at 4,900 metres.

But due to extremely harsh conditions - including a wind chill factor of -62C and winds of 80kmh - they were forced to abandon the search for Mr Mackiewicz.

"The rescue for Tomasz is unfortunately not possible - because of the weather and altitude it would put the life of rescuers in extreme danger," a friend, Ludovic Giambiasi, wrote on Facebook.

"It's a terrible and painful decision," he said.

"All our thoughts go out to Tomek's family and friends. We are crying."

Speaking on Sunday to Polish television station TVN 24, Ms Solska thanked the rescuers, telling them she knows they did all they could to save her husband.

"The whole action of the team from K2 was also unbelievable.

"I can repeat hundreds and thousands of times that I thank you very much, my gratitude is bottomless," she said.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe campaign was launched to pay for a deposit for the rescue helicopter that saved Ms Revol. The private funding is necessary for a recovery mission under Pakistani law.

Members of the international climbing community and the Polish government raised €128,000, which will now go towards providing for Ms Solska and the couple's children, according to the campaign's website.

The tragedy occurred after Mr Mackiewicz and Ms Revol are believed to have reached the summit at an altitude of 8,126 metres.

Due to the notoriously perilous conditions, the feat would have made them only the second climbing team to reach the peak this season.

The climb was Mr Mackiewicz's seventh attempt to scale the mountain during winter expeditions and the third climb with Ms Revol, according to 'The New York Times'.

"Tomek's love for Nanga Parbat almost verges on mania," Stefan Nestler, who covers adventure sports, wrote in November.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said it is available to provide consular assistance to Mr Mackiewicz's family if requested.

Irish Independent

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