K2: A Letter from Nazir Sabir

Posted on: August 18, 2008

Greetings from Islamabad. The recent tragedy on K2 is a most unfortunate incident in which eleven precious lives were lost above 8000m. This has been another deadly incident in the history of K2, one which grieves all of us here in Pakistan. One Serbian and a Pakistani died on the way up, and all of the others died on their return from the summit. Most of them became weak due to exposure, as they were forced to spend the night of August 1, 2008 out in the open above the Bottleneck—higher than 8200m, with temperatures below -25 C wind chill making it even worse.

K2, Karakoram, Pakistan: the site of the August 1, 2008, disaster in which eleven climbers perished in the aftermath of an avalanche on the upper slopes of the peak.

From a climber's point of view, I think they all made several mistakes: for example, making an agreement on a joint final summit push with over two dozen people at the same time, or depending on others for fixing ropes above 8000m. The worst part was a lack of timely crucial decision making in addition to trying to reach the summit so very late in the day. Although most of them had a sound climbing background, there were some climbers who were lacking the crucial extra energy, experience for survival and technical ability to cope with this kind of situation.

We know that a few survivors are trying to blame some other climbers, local crew and others. They also seem to be throwing responsibility elsewhere, claiming that ropes were fixed much below the Bottleneck on easier ground, and they had to replace them, which made them late in reaching the summit. They also blame some of the high-altitude porters, but it is evident that all the teams are deeply divided on where to throw the blame for various issues. This is unfortunate, and is often the case when tragedies of this magnitude occur; this kind of blame game to me seems unfair. I acknowledge the fact that we humans often find it hard to make accurate decisions when embroiled in such situations and at this altitude we tend to make mistakes. The Sherpas and the high-altitude porters can't be expected to play the role of fixing the ropes and camps on higher ground on K2. Commercial climbing has no place on K2 like on easier mountains like Broad Peak, G2 or even Everest.


Meanwhile, we have been meeting the returning climbers who were part of the dilemma and were higher up on K2. There are obvious differences on several issues among the many parties on the mountain.

I had a lengthy meeting with Mr. Alberto of Spain, who was first on the summit that day at 3 p.m. It seems the last person who left the summit was around 9:30 p.m. It was suicidal to continue climbing toward the summit of K2 when they had seen the route conditions around the Bottleneck, and had even witnessed people dying earlier in the day. There have been several mentions of people losing their senses during the descent—at night, and out of oxygen.

The Serbian mountaineer Mr. Dren Mandic lost his life when he slipped from the lower icy slope of the Bottleneck. This fatal accident took place around 11:12 a.m. on Friday, August 1 as a much worse omen on a summit day. His body was found fifteen minutes later by his two teammates and one of their Pakistani high-altitude porters. It has been said that the Pakistani climber Jehan Baig was returning due to fatigue and some illness. He also took part in retrieving the body of Dren and suddenly slipped down eastern icy slopes of K2. The Serbian team leader, Mr. Milivoj Erdeljan, issued a statement with further details that can be read on everestnews.com.

This incident was discussed at a high-level meeting held at the Ministry of Tourism. Both Dutch survivors Wilco van Rooijen and Cas van de Gevel, the Korean climbers, their LO Capt. Azim and their Sherpas also were present at this condolence meeting. The Secretary of Tourism will put together a team to conduct a thorough fact-finding investigation consisting of both officials from Ministry of Tourism and the Alpine Club of Pakistan to probe into the drama on K2.

With best regards,

Nazir Sabir

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Dear alpinist community, Regards to all.

Something about the tragic incident which happened on K2 on night 1 / 2 august 2008.

I was doing my duties as LO the representative of government of Pakistan with Spanish Broad Peak Expedition 2008, Lead by Mr. Juan Carlos Gonzalez later by Mr. Santiago Martin Corrales. The expedition was initially consisted of 8 members after evacuation of 2 members on 6 July 2008 due to illness we were left 6 members headed by Mr. Santiago.

After 12 days bad weather our expedition members decided to go to camp 2 on 29 July 2008. 30 July to camp 3 of Broad Peak. Among the 6 members one member Alberto Zerrain had permit of K2 as well, he preferred climbing K2 than Broad Peak because he had left with very short time of five days. He asked me about his intentions after consulting with all members we saw him off for K2 on 28 July 2008.

As I mentioned our five members were attempting for summit on broad peak. They decided to attack on 31 July 2008 early in the morning. That day we were waiting for good news from them but unfortunately we were not in communication. The next day on 1st august 2008 I with my staff woke up early in the morning and got binocular and sat on a high moraine near base camp watching towards summit after sometimes we got news that one of our member was able to reach the real summit of broad peak. About rest of the members we did not know anything about. At about 1:30 pm we came to know that a Serbian climber Dren died near bottleneck on K2. It was a shock for me because Alberto was on K2. I was feeling sorry about the Serbian fellow. One day earlier I have gone to K2 base camp there I met the Serbian leader and one member Micho. They were good fellows.

I send my guide Mr. Shah Jahangir to K2 base camp to condole the Serbian members and bring some actual news from K2, as we all know in these circumstances everybody narrates different stories. On that day we saw almost 15 climbers on K2 above bottleneck on the sky line at about 5:45 pm. one was hardly 200 meters short from the summit. It was alarming for many people sitting there that they were too late according to some old aged guides and few climbers. We were looking them till 9: pm as torches were blown by them. We saw some torches blown on summit as well. I procured one high beam torch from somebody and signaled them for sometime and we immediately got the same signals from K2 summit as it is very clear from broad peak base camp, everybody with me cheered and all of us wished them good luck and prayed for them their safe descend. And we called off the day. At night 1/2 august at 01:30 am our 2 members Santiago and Alf redo Garcia reached base camp, Alfredo was able to step on the real summit of Broad Peak and they said that all climbers on broad peak were safe. Next day we heard the tragic news from K2 and it was very unfortunate and very sad.


It is very easy to blame others but it is very difficult to realize own mistakes rather blunders. Some non professional people think that it is the responsibility of Sherpas and high porters to fix the ropes and establish the camps on high altitude. As we all know that the leader of the expedition is responsible for fixing ropes and establishing camps. The porters and Sherpas are only responsible for dumping food and carrying climbing equipment to the established camps up till camp 3 and in some cases till camp 4. They only carry the authorized weight i.e. 12-15 kgs it is also reported that some climbers force the high porters and Sherpas to carry 30 to 40 kgs and expect from them to fix ropes and establish camps which is inhuman and unfortunate. Professional and potential climbers are well aware of the situation. So please stop this tendency and have faith on your own arms and muscles. It was a disaster which took place unfortunately and we are no one to blame others. The actual facts are narrated by a Spanish climber Mr., Alberto Zerrain who was the first on summit of K2 on 1 august 2008. Please have patience that the mountaineering is the game of life and death, it can happen any time above 8000ms. We should think about it before coming to Karakorums or Himalayas.

I extend my condolence to all the families of those who died on K2 on 1 august 2008. And pray that may almighty rest their soles and give patience to their families and friends to bear this panic and hearting tragedy. Amen'

Captain Muhammad Anwar Sharif (anwar36706@yahoo.com

2008-09-09 09:01:43



2008-08-26 00:58:23

The Serbian team leader Serbian team leader, Mr. Milivoj Erdeljan, issued a statement with further details that can be read on everestnews.com.

I cant fin this. Any one know the link?

2008-08-19 16:56:16
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