On 09 March, the search for Tom Ballard and his climbing partner, Daniele Nardi, was officially called off. The previous sightings of “silhouettes” during the reconnaissance operation were confirmed to be the bodies of the two climbers.
It is with heavy hearts that we announce that the search and rescue operation of Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi was officially called off on 09 March 2019.
The rescue operation had been ongoing since the climbers’ last communication on 24 February. Both climbers were on an expedition attempting to climb the notorious Mummery Spur on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan. Since the route’s creation, it has remained unclimbed.
On 06 March, the Nardi team revealed that Alex Txikon had identified two “silhouettes” through a high powered telescope. The team was prepared to confirm the sightings using the assistance of a helicopter flyby. On the scheduled day, Pakistan recalled the helicopter for military operations. It would be another two days before the identification could be completed.
On 09 March, Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo announced on Twitter that the “silhouettes” previously identified were, in fact, those of Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi.
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
In a later tweet, he provided the image taken through a telescope by Alex Txikon of the bodies of both climbers and their orange tent next to them. It was confirmed both men were deceased.
Foto made with a telescope by @AlexTxikon and his team on the #NangaParbat. @NardiDaniele is on the center left (orange vest) Tom Ballard at the center (blu vest) and their tent is visible next to Tom. Foto property of @AlexTxikon. pic.twitter.com/TvOSYwbS2L
— Stefano Pontecorvo (@pontecorvoste) March 9, 2019
Tom Ballard & Daniele Nardi Rescue Operation
The rescue operation was plagued by delays brought on by weather and political turmoil in Pakistan. During the first day of a planned helicopter reconnaissance operation, Pakistani airspace was closed due to a conflict with India the country called a “national emergency. It took a day for the situation to be resolved and required the intervention of Italian Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo.
Pontecorvo worked in tandem with the English embassy to secure flight permits for the rescue operation, and on 28 February, the first helicopter carrying Ali Sadpara took off for Nanga Parbat from Skardu.
During that initial aerial reconnaissance operation, Sadpara announced that the climbers’ tent was found overwhelmed by snow. A fact that was expressed by Ballard earlier during his expedition in one of his Facebook Posts. The two men had complained about the expedition’s hard-comings, having to dig out their tents ever so often from the snow. But both were excited about their challenging goal.
A Russian team later joined the rescue effort. That team called off their search on 01 March due to the increased risk of avalanches on the mountain from their approaching route from K2.
The Nardi Team then announced that climber Alex Txikon, three collaborators and a doctor were traveling from K2 Base Camp to Nanga Parbat. The rescue operation would continue with the use of sophisticated drone technology piloted by engineer and alpinist Ignacio de Zuloaga. Weather delayed their operation by a few days.
By this time, it was believed that Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi had been victims of an avalanche, which Nanga Parbat is especially prone to.
Nanga Parbat is known in the climbing community as the “Killer Mountain.” It was here that legendary climber Reinhold Messer lost his brother, Günther, in 1970. The mountain has claimed the lives of many climbers over the years. The most notable in previous years were the deaths of Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galván in the summer of 2017. Both were victims of an avalanche.
Tom Ballard, Son of Alison Hargreaves
Tom Ballard is the son of Alison Hargreaves. She is renowned as being the first woman to summit Mount Everest during a solo climb without supplemental oxygen. Just three months later, Hargreaves died on the descent during an expedition to K2 in 1995. Ballard was six years.
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. Tom regularly said that he had climbed the North Face of the Eiger before he was even born.
Ballard went on to become the first person to climb the six great North Faces of the Alps in his 20s. He accomplished this on solo expeditions, all in the same season. The British media site, Telegraph, nicknamed him “King of the Alps.”
Alison Hargreaves was just 33 when she died. Ballard died at the age of 30, just three years younger than his mother when she passed away.
(Read our article in remembrance of Tom Ballard.)
Daniele Nardi & Tom Ballard GoFundMe Campaign
Luigi Nardi set up GoFundMe campaign for the rescue effort. The campaign was set up to raise €150,000 to help pay for the €50,000 per-day in helicopter expenses and more. In one of their last posts, they thanked the donors, climbers and volunteers involved with the effort.
Tom Ballard is survived by his father, James Ballard; sister, Kate Ballard; and girlfriend, Stefania Pederiva.
Daniele Nardi is survived by his wife, children and brother, Luigi Nardi.
Iqbal, Nosheen. “Bodies of Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi Found in Himalayas.” 9 Mar. 2019, The Guardian, Guardian News and Media. Accessed 9 Mar. 2019.
STAFF, BBC “Tom Ballard: Bodies Found in Missing Climbers Search.” 9 Mar. 2019. BBC News, BBC. Accessed 9 Mar. 2019
@pontecorvoste. “Announcement of Tom Ballard/Daniele Nardi Death.” Twitter, 09 March 2019, URL (https://twitter.com/pontecorvoste/status/1104365344733446144)