PAKISTAN – One climber has been rescued from Nanga Parbat and one perished during separate winter expeditions on the “Killer Mountain.”
French mountaineer Elisabeth Revol was rescued off of the mountain after an ill-fated storm trapped her and her climbing partner above 25,000 ft (7620 m).
Her climbing partner, Polish native Tomasz “Tomek” Mackiewicz had to be left behind due to his severe injuries and physical condition.
Mackiewicz, who was in the process of making a seventh attempt at an ascent of Nanga Parbat during a winter expedition, was believed to have been sheltering in a crevice after having been afflicted by frostbite and snow blindness, a deadly combination of physical conditions brought on by extreme exposure during high-altitude climbs.
The rescue was conducted buy a team of Polish volunteers, who were airlifted from nearby K2 via helicopter and flown to Nanga Parbat to rescue Revol.
The team was able to reach Revol, however, they could not bypass the storm that created a barrier between them and Mackiewicz.
At the time of this writing, Mackiewicz has been declared dead.
Nanga Parbat is considered one of the deadliest mountains on record. It’s nicknamed the “Killer Mountain” and is the world’s ninth highest mountain and one of the 8000ers, which are mountains that are above 26,247 ft (8,000 meters).
Many have attempted records on Nanda Parbat and have failed. The mountain has claimed many excellent and experienced climbers throughout the years. Notably, Nanga Parbat was the mountain that claimed the life of famed Mountaineer Reinhold Messner’s brother, Günther Messner, in 1970. More recently, it claimed the lives of Alberto Zerrain and Mariano Galvan in the summer of 2017.
Zerrain was a survivor of the 2008 K2 Tragedy that also involved Swedish climber Fredrik Sträng. Zerrain, who was on a solo expedition, was the first to climb and descend K2 successfully during that expedition; 11 other climbers would perish.
Both Revol and Mackiewicz had attempted to climb Nanga Parbat during the winter before. This was Revol’s third attempt with Mackiewicz as a partner.
Just above 24,000 ft, the expedition experienced rough weather and Mackiewicz was affected by frostbite and snow blindness.
Revol assisted Mackiewicz in descending further down the mountain before placing him in a tent to shelter out the weather.
Revol continued to descend on her own in an attempt to call for help and explain the condition of her partner. Shortly after, a worldwide effort to fund a rescue mission for Revol began when Masha Gordon registered a GoFundMe page with the aim of raising €150,000 for the rescue expedition.
Diplomats made appeals to the government of Pakistan for a rescue, and nearby Mountaineers who are attempting a winter ascent of K2, which if successful would be the first in history, volunteered for the rescue mission.
The rescue mission began on Saturday after enough money was raised for a helicopter to transport the volunteer climbers from K2 to the Base Camp of Nanga Parbat situated at 15,748 ft. (4800 meters).
Revol was airlifted to a hospital in Islamabad to recover from her harrowing experience.
Over €132,256 had been raised through the GoFundMe page. The leftover funds will be donated to Mackiewicz’s family.
Mackiewicz’s wife wrote on his Facebook page that prior to succumbing to altitude sickness, both Mackiewicz and Revol did summit the mountain stating,
“Tomek and Elisabeth entered the top of nanga parbat
Tomek and Elisabeth summitted nanga”
The volunteers from the 2018 Winter K2 Expedition are set to rejoin their team, and the rescue mission is not expected to have an effect on there plan to Summit K2 in the winter. If they succeed, they will become the first team to ever Summit K2 in the winter while also having been part of a rescue mission on the Killer Mountain, Nanga Parbat, within the same time frame.
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Khan, Z. (2018, January 28). Rescuers in Pakistan call off efforts to save Polish climber. Retrieved January 29, 2018, from https://apnews.com/4d0521b4321c414797e3542af6c085a3
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Domonoske, C. (2018, January 29). After Harrowing Weekend Rescue, One Climber Saved, One Lost To ‘Killer Mountain’. Retrieved January 29, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/01/29/581530678/after-harrowing-weekend-rescue-one-climber-saved-one-lost-to-killer-mountain