Monday 23 April 2018

Rescuers forced to make tragic choice on 'killer mountain'

Tomasz Mackiewicz on the mountain in 2014 Photo: REUTERS
Tomasz Mackiewicz on the mountain in 2014 Photo: REUTERS

Rory Mulholland

An elite group of mountain climbers has rescued a French mountaineer from a Himalayan peak in Pakistan - but had to abandon the search for her climbing partner, due to fierce weather conditions.

The four volunteer rescuers from a separate Polish expedition, with support from the Pakistani military, launched the attempt on Saturday to rescue stranded French mountaineer Elisabeth Revol.

Climber Elisabeth Revol (centre) with some of the rescue team at the base of Nanga Parbat, Pakistan yesterday Photo: Reuters
Climber Elisabeth Revol (centre) with some of the rescue team at the base of Nanga Parbat, Pakistan yesterday Photo: Reuters

But they were unable to reach Polish national Tomek (Tomasz) Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat, a peak nicknamed the 'killer mountain', after more than 30 climbers died trying to climb it before the first successful summit in 1953. It is the ninth-highest peak in the world at 8,126 metres (26,660ft).

Ms Revol, who has frostbite on her feet, was taken yesterday to the Pakistani capital Islamabad for treatment at the Shifa International Hospital.

The 37-year-old physical education teacher from the Drome region of southern France was in a stable condition and her wounds were not life-threatening, hospital officials said. But the news for her climbing partner was grim.

"The rescue for Tomasz is unfortunately not possible. Because of the weather and altitude, it would put the lives of rescuers in extreme danger," wrote Ludovic Giambiasi, a friend of Ms Revol on Facebook. "It's a terrible and painful decision," he wrote.

The pair ran into trouble after trying to make a late descent to a camp on Thursday.

They were trapped on the side of the mountain for the night without a tent, battered by freezing temperatures and high winds.

The rescue mission was launched after the missing alpinists had been located on Friday by fellow mountaineers using binoculars, who spotted Ms Revol attempting to climb down while Mr Mackiewicz appeared to be crawling due to frostbite.

The four rescuers who saved Ms Revol were flown by the Pakistani military from the base camp of K2 - the world's second-highest peak - to reach the stranded climbers.

Irish Independent

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