Over the weekend, the Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard rescue operation was plagued by delays and bad weather. A rescue fund has been set up.
Over the weekend, rescue organizers battled with the weather and policy while attempting to rescue Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi from Nanga Parbat. The two climbers went missing on 24 February after their last communication with Base Camp.
Tom Ballard is the son of the late acclaimed climber Alison Hargreaves.
The pair were making an attempt to scale the infamous Mummery Spur, which, since its creation, remains unclimbed.
Since then, an Italian helicopter was put on standby. On the first day, the chopper was unable to take off due to a Pakistani airspace closure prompted by a national emergency. The emergency was brought on by rising tensions and conflicts between India and Pakistan.
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
UPDATE: As of 09 March, the rescue operation for Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi has been officially called off. Follow the link for more information on this story. (Read our article in remembrance of Tom Ballard.)
The Rescue Effort
The Nardi team report stated that Ambassador Pontecorvo was active in the effort to find the two climbers. Pontecorvo is the Italian ambassador to Pakistan.
The update stated that Pontecorvo alerted the English Embassy; together, the two embassies were working to get the Pakistani government to open the airspace and allow the helicopter to take off to Nanga Parbat Base Camp.
Later that day, the team reported that the intervention from both embassies succeeded in obtaining permission for the helicopter to fly to Base Camp. By this time, sunset was approaching, and the rescue operation was delayed again until the next morning.
28 February 2019
On 28 February, the team made another update. The helicopter took off from Skardu with two Pakistani mountaineers and Ali Sadpara. An initial reconnaissance operation was conducted, however, no traces of the two climbers were found. The helicopter dropped Ali Sadpara off at Nanga Parbat and continued to a nearby heliport to refuel.
Ali Sadpara later announced that the climbers’ tent was found overwhelmed by snow. The air operation also found traces of an avalanche on the slope, indicating instability in the area and possible danger to ground operations.
Nanga Parbat is known for deadly avalanches. In 2017, Alberto Zerain died on Nanga Parbat as a result of an avalanche along with his partner, Mariano Galván.
The Nardi Team stated that according to agreements with the Italian embassy and Pakistani Aviation, two helicopters were sent from Skardu later that day and were headed for K2 Base Camp.
K2 Base Camp is relatively close to Nanga Parbat. In 2018, a team of rescue climbers on an expedition on K2 left from K2 Base Camp headed for Nanga Parbat. The climbers were attempting to save Elisabeth Revol, who had left her partner, Tomasz Mackiewicz, higher on the mountain after going to search for help. The team rescued Revol but left her partner without attempting to rescue him.
During this expedition to save Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi, the team was hoping to deposit a team of ground rescuers as close to Camp 3 as possible, using the K2 Base Camp angle. According to reports, a team of Russian climbers led by Vassily Pivtsov was making the groud effort.
01 March 2019
By 01 March, there was still no news of the two climbers. The Russian team announced that they had to call off their search, as the risk of avalanches was too high. Still in concert, the Italian Embassy and the Pakistani government were working together to obtain flight permits whenever necessary.
In their 01 March update, the Nardi team stated that climber Alex Txikon, three collaborators and a doctor were supposed to travel from K2 Base Camp to Nanga Parbat. They were supposed to continue the search using sophisticated drone technology to offset the mounting risk posed by avalanches. However, the weather did not permit the helicopter that was supposed to fly them there to take off. The team has been waiting since 01 March to proceed.
The Nardi family have set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for the rescue effort. They hope to achieve a goal of €150,000. Please visit the Friends of Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard Rescue page to donate today.
UPDATE: As of 09 March, the rescue operation for Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi has been officially called off. Follow the link for more information on this story.