Ali Sadpara - lost to the K2
APP Digital
By Shafek Koreshe

The deep passion of three climbers from Pakistan, Chile, and Iceland, to conquer the “Savage Mountain” – K2 in winters, remained unfilled, with a confirmation from the families that their loved ones were lost to the mountain on Thursday.

Sajid Ali Sadpara, along with the members of the missing climbers’ family and provincial tourism minister Raja Nasir Ali Khan shared the sad news at a press conference in Skardu. Sajid Sadpara accompanied the team but had to return after his oxygen regulator developed some trouble.

The three climbers – Ali Sadpara, Iceland’s John Snorri Sigurjónsson, and Chile’s Juan Pablo Mohr were last seen on Feb 5, but soon thereafter lost contact with the other team members. A number of search rescue attempts were made by the Pakistan Army to trace their whereabouts, without any luck.

The family had got support from the Iceland Space Agency (ICEYE) for its help in tracing the missing climbers, using the latest SAR technology to search the treacherous mountainsides for any trace.

The Pakistan Air Force C-130 aircraft equipped with a modern FLIR system for thermal imaging could not find the ambitious climbers.

Sajid Ali Sadpara and the Minister of Tourism Gilgit Baltistan said the announcement was made as the mountaineering experts, search and rescue teams of the Pakistan Army and weather experts had agreed that it was not possible for any human to survive for that long in such harsh weather conditions, at such a height.

Soon after the breaking of the sad news, messages of grief, and support to the families started pouring in.

President Dr Arif Alvi in a message prayed for peace for all the three climbers. He described Ali Sadpara  as “a courageous son of the soil” who “battled nature with strength, fortitude, and heroism.”

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Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said “your spirit, passion, grit & determination in the face of every kind of hardship leaves behind a rich legacy, inspiring generations.”

The golden words of Ali Sadpara finally came true; “My spirit soars where the air goes thin, if I ever got stuck on top of a mountain, I will dig an undermine and live there”.

British-American climber, Vanessa O’Brien, who also serves as Pakistan’s Goodwill Ambassador and summited K2 with John Snorri along with the families of the climbers had set up a virtual base camp to coordinate the search and rescue operations.

In a message, she said countless individuals, including herself, had mourned the loss. The best way to get over a death is by seeing it as a life completed, instead of a life interrupted.”

Several attempts to search the climbers were thwarted by bad weather and even ground teams were sent but without any luck.

Sajid Sadpara was overwhelmed with the love and support for his father, whom he described as a national hero and said it has given immense strength to his family

“We have lost a kindhearted person and the Pakistani nation has lost a brave and great adventurous person who loved Pakistan and its flag,” Sajid said and vowed to follow in the footsteps of his father and fulfil his dream mission.

K2 Statistics

According to the K2 Statistics, Bulgarian alpinist Atanas Skatov died earlier this month on K2, and a Spanish climber, Sergi Mingote, also fell to his death last month while descending the mountain. Since 1954 86 climbers have died while attempting to scale one of the most difficult mountains in the world.

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However, a 10-member team of Nepali climbers made history when they became the first to conquer K2 in winter, last month. The 8,611 m high K2, though only 200 meters short of Mount Everest, has been successfully scaled by only 337 mountaineers, in contrast to more than 6,500 people on Everest.

Friends, fellow mountaineers, and an overwhelming number of people from all walks of life rushed to various social media platforms to express solidarity with the families over their loss and described the three climbers as legends, who would live for times immemorial.

Singer Abrar-ul-Haq earlier in a message on Twitter said Muhammad Ali Sadpara wanted to build a school in his village after his mission therefore “we have decided to fulfil his dream and Inshahallah a school will be built in the village of our hero in his memory.” He said he would be visiting his village in March.

Singer Ali Zafar dedicated a song in honour of Ali Sadpara – with still and video images of the late climber who can be seen dancing on the tune of this song.

The song posted by Ali Zafar got a huge response, as they watched the legend melt in the K2 snow, with misty eyes.

Soon after the breaking of the sad news people, young and old gathered on city roads, aggrieved over the tragedy. As the sunset behind the snow-clad mountains, cities and towns in Gilgit, Baltistan saw young and old out into the streets for a candlelit vigil in memory of the brave souls who were lost somewhere in the folds of the mountain.