With the death of the 57-year-old HongBin Kim, details are now emerging as to what happened on the Broad Peak on July 18th which triggered a multi-team rescue operation.
On July 14th, the Broad Peak Base Camp had a joint meeting of all the climbing expeditions where the teams felt necessary to collaborate in a joint effort for the summit. The snow conditions beyond Camp-3 were unusual with waist-deep soft snow making it rather impossible to break the trail any further. On July 15th, the teams set out for the summit push from the Base Camp with clear weather forecasts until July 18th.
“The difficulty of the ascent is that above 7000m the trail is not formed and the snow condition is terrible:” wrote Vitaly Lazo of the DeathZoneFreeRide (DZF). “A crust and soft loose snow under it, sometimes waist-deep… It will be necessary to trail with a large team, no one man can do it.”
On July 20th, the DZF team posted a detailed timeline of the rescue operation; “On July 17, at 23:00 local time, the DZF team began the ascent to the summit from Camp 3 (7100 m). Around the same time, another 5 teams start to climb. A good forecast was literally for two days, and everyone was in a hurry.
On July 18, at 16:30 local time, Anton Pugovkin, Vitaly Lazo and Thomas Lone decided to turn back: it was still an hour and a half to the top, and the guys understood that they would have to go down in the dark, and decided not to risk it.
On July 18, at 20:00 the DZF team descended to Camp 3, decided to continue the ascent and make a second attempt a week later, in better weather conditions.
At the same time, several groups continued their ascent, including a Korean team and a group with a young climber from Russia Anastasia Runova.
At 24:00 a message was received: in the col area at 7900 m there was a fall, a girl fell. It also became known that an emergency situation occurred with Kim Hong-Bin
At 00:15 Anton and Vitaly went to rescue, climbers in Camp 3 collected additional medicines and oxygen.
According to preliminary data, Anastasia was pulled out from the crack by a porter, and they began to descend. From this point she descended without the crampons (they were left in the crack).
At 4 o’clock in the morning, Anton Pugovkin and Vitaly Lazo met Anastasia, she was given an injection of Dex and a drink, and the descent began.
Vitaly took a walkie-talkie and oxygen and went to help Mr. Kim. Meanwhile Anton brought Anastasia to Camp 3. As a result, after resting, she, with the help of her comrades, was able to reach Base Camp safely.
At 13:30 Anton went out to meet Vitaly, who was trying to save Kim. Unfortunately, there was another fall during the rescue mission, Kim fell from an 80-degree wall…
When Vitaly ascended to Kim at an altitude of 7900 meters, there were several Pakistani porters and Korean climbers nearby.
Vitaly rappelled into a crack of 20 meters, and helped Kim to anchor — the alpinists began to climb. But after some time, according to the assumption, Kim’s jumar had been blocked (Vitaly was 5 meters down)
He shouted to Kim — the Korean alpinist was moving, trying to unblock the jumar. Then there was a sharp fall, and Kim fell.
With 99% certainty, we can say that he died immediately. It was horrible, but Vitaly safely climbed out of the crack and began to descend.
At 17:20, Anton and Vitaly met, and began the descent to the Base Camp from a height of 7100 m.
Partly they went down on skis, partly on foot, because of the blizzard.
At 21:16 they were already in Base Camp, Thomas Lone arrived there a little earlier.”