Search and Rescue operation had to be suspended as the Pakistan Army Aviation Helicopter could not carry on the search for more than three hours in wake of bad weather. Spaniard Alberto Zerain and Argentinian Mariano Galvan, known to be one of the best High Altitude Alpinists in the world, were attempting Nanga from Half way through the Mazeno Ridge in Alpine Style.
Zerain and Galvan reached the Diamir Base Camp on June 15th and very well acclimatized returning from their bids on Lhotse and Annapurna this season.
The duo was not allowed to camp before the Diamir Base Camp due to security reasons and they had to haul their baggage for 10 hours to the forward Base Camp from where they were to start their climb. Starting off on June 19th, they quickly gained 5600m but were forced to stop due to worsening weather conditions.
On June 17th Galvan wrote on his blog, “Tomorrow we will begin to climb and calculate a week to complete the ridge and two extra days for bad weather and rest. We will be heavily loaded, since we have not made any pre-arrangements.”
From June 19th to their last contact to Base, Galvan and Zerain were forging their way ahead despite bad weather conditions. They launched their summit push on June 19th but were again stalled for another three days. Weather updates predicted good conditions for a summit push but things changed quickly on ground.
Alberto’s last contact to the Base complained of bad weather and wet conditions. “It’s snowing continuously, its snowy snow, because it’s not really cold, so it gets wet. It’s a very uncomfortable wait”.
The duo was making gradual progress till 23rd when they crossed 6000m mark. On 24th, the tracker gave a location of 6270m but an hour later it relayed an altitude of 6110m and stopped working presumably on Auto-off mode. It was not turned on after that moment.
Search and Rescue operation was launched traversing the last location marked by the tracker. Romanian climber Alex Gavan who has been working on the Kinshofer Route on Diamir side has volunteered to carry out the rescue mission. Pakistani Himalayas and Karakorum are likely to experience an early Monsoon which in normally starts by the end of July. There are several teams working on K2, G1 and Nanga and their climbing bids will be severely affected by present weather conditions.