Two European climbers who went missing nearly two weeks ago while scaling the world’s ninth-highest peak in Pakistan’s Gilgit Baltistan region have been confirmed dead.
Italy’s ambassador to Pakistan, Stefano Pontecorvo, tweeted on Saturday that the search for Italian Daniele Nardi and Briton Tom Ballard ended after their bodies were found at a height of about 5,900 meters (19,356 feet) on Nanga Parbat.
“With great sadness I inform that the search for @NardiDaniele and Tom Ballard is over as … the search team have confirmed that the silhouettes spotted on Mummery at about 5,900 meters are those of Daniele and Tom. R.I.P. #NangaParbat,” Italian envoy Stefano Pontecorvo tweeted.
Nardi and Ballard lost contact with the base camp on February 24 while trying to climb the 8,126-metre summit, known as the killer mountain because of the dangerous conditions. The pair was at more than 6,000 metres when they went missing.
With great sadness I inform that the search for 🇮🇹 @NardiDaniele and 🇬🇧 Tom Ballard is over as @AlexTxikon and the search team have confirmed that the silhouettes spotted on Mummery at about 5900 meters are those of Daniele and Tom. R.I.P. #NangaParbat pic.twitter.com/vBmsRKJgKC
— Stefano Pontecorvo (@pontecorvoste) March 9, 2019
Karrar Haidri, secretary of the Pakistan Alpine Club, said Pakistani authorities had done all they could to find the climbers.
Pakistan dispatched helicopters carrying four rescuers led by Spanish mountaineer Alex Txikon, despite the closure of its airspace amid tensions with neighbouring India over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. He said foul weather hindered their efforts.
Haidri said that due to the altitude and the difficult conditions on the mountain, it would not be possible to bring the bodies down.
|The first successful winter ascent of the summit was made in February 2016 [Musaf Zaman Kazmi/AP]|
Ballard, 30, is the son of famed British climber, Alison Hargreaves, who became the first woman to climb Mount Everest unaided in 1995 but died later the same year while descending from the summit of Pakistan’s K2, the world’s second-tallest mountain.
Nardi, 42, from Rome, had attempted to scale Nanga Parbat in winter several times.
The first successful winter ascent of the summit was made in February 2016.
A Polish climber died on the mountain in January 2018, but his female French climbing partner was saved by climbers who were airlifted from K2 to conduct a daring night-time rescue mission.
Hundreds of mountaineers, most of them from Europe, try to scale half a dozen peaks in Pakistan every year in summer, but only a few make the attempt in winter.