The acclaimed son of Alison Hargreaves has disappeared on Nanga Parbat while on an expedition in late February with Daniele Nardi.
British climber Tom Ballard was on an expedition with his climbing partner, Daniele Nardi, an Italian national, in February. The last time the pair were heard from was on Sunday, 24 February 2019. That morning, the duo had made it to 20,600 ft. (6,300 meters).
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, 27 February 2019, Daniele Nardi’s team expressed that the climbers had not been heard of since that Sunday. In quick response, the Pakistani rescue system had been activated.
Nardi’s agency in collaboration with evk2cnr pk also activated the askari company. The latter has the government concession for the use of military helicopters for civil rescue. The Facebook post stated that a short time later, all bureaucratic procedures had been agreed upon. There were plans for an Italian helicopter to reach Nanga Parbat Base Camp just 40 munites away.
The post went on to say that due to a National Emergency in Pakistan caused by the conflict between Pakistan and India, Pakistani airspace had been closed.
In Skardu, the rescue helicopter that was being prepared and was on standby was not able to take off. The next day, however, the Pakistani military sent a helicopter to the last known location of both men. No trace of them was found.
UPDATE: On 09 March, the rescue operation for Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi was officially called off. Follow the link for more information on this story. (Read our article in remembrance of Tom Ballard.)
Tom Ballard is the son of Alison Hargreaves. She reached fame as the first woman to summit Mount Everest during a solo climb without supplemental oxygen. She was the second person to summit solo without supplemental oxygen. Just three months later, Hargreaves died on descent during an expedition to K2 in 1995. Ballard was just six years old when his mother died.
Hargreaves was a powerhouse climber. In July 1988, she successfully scaled the North Face of The Eiger, … while she was six months pregnant with Ballard.
Alison Hargreaves was just 33 when she died. Ballard is currently 30, just three years younger than his mother when she passed away.
Ballard made statements when he was younger claiming that the only thing he ever wanted to do was climb. He reached his own goals in his adult life becoming the first person to climb the six great North Faces of Europe’s highest mountain range. He accomplished this on solo expeditions, all in the same season. The British media site, Telegraph, nicknamed him “King of the Alps.”
Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi’s Nanga Parbat Expedition
According to the expedition reports released by Montane, the British outdoor clothing brand that sponsored Ballard’s climb, the two climbers began climbing Nanga Parbat’s western side in January. The two were making an attempt to scale the infamous Mummery Spur, which, since its creation in 1895 by Albert F. Mummery, remains unclimbed.
The team’s efforts were recorded by Daniele Nardi’s frequent blog posts, which stated that the duo’s expedition had been far from a cake walk. Their route was notorious. They’d had to retrieve their tent once from under a pile of snow. They were sleeping in -0.4° weather (-18 ° C). Nardi complained about it being difficult to swallow.
An experienced climber himself, Nardi had been to Nanga Parbat four times prior to this expedition.
Nanga Parbat, “The Killer Mountain”
Nanga Parbat sits at 26,600 feet (6,300 meters) and is the second highest mountain in Pakistan. The mountain achieved notoriety for being a difficult one to survive an expedition on. Acclaimed climber, Reinhold Messner lost his brother Günther Messner on Nanga Parbat on 29 June 1970.
They hadn’t been heard of for seven days before being declared dead.
In 2018, we reported on the failed expedition of Elisabeth Revol and her climbing partner, Tomasz Mackiewicz, on Nanga Parbat. After falling ill, Mackiewicz was left by Revol high on the mountain while she climbed down in search of help. A nearby expedition on K2, which was aiming to be the first to climb K2 in a winter season, heard Revol’s urgent calls through radio frequencies. They headed over to Nanga Parbat to rescue Revol and successfully helped her down.
Their expedition did not succeed. K2 remains unconquered in winter.
The rescue effort was met with a lot of controversies. Some said the rescuers refused to climb higher to help Tomasz and instead declared him prematurely dead. Elisabeth Revol stated in the hospital that she wanted help for her partner and that the rescuers refused to help him. Vanessa O’Brien was one of the more outspoken of the outraged. She claimed, “they could have climbed higher.”
Since 1895, 83 people have died on Nanga Parbat, 11 of whom were killed by the Taliban in 2013.
Updates to this story have been published on Base Camp Magazine. See our second update detailing the rescue efforts’ delays. Also, see our update noting that there is still hope and new evidence has been found.