Iranian Trio Perishes Descending Broad Peak

Posted on: August 1, 2013


The southwest face of Broad Peak (8047m). On July 16, three Iranian climbers summited by a new variation, taking a direct line from Camp III on the normal route to the summit. During their descent, still high on the mountain, the three men disappeared after they ran out of food and water and one man sustained an injury. An exhaustive search was finally called off on July 25. [Photo] Wikimedia Commons

On July 13, having branched off from the normal route at Camp III, Iranian climbers Aidin Bozorgi, Pouya Keivan and Mojtaba Jarahi made a bivy at 7350m on an unclimbed swath of Broad Peak's (8047m) southwest side. The next morning, their path changed from snow to rock, slowing progress to a careful crawl. The trio made just 100 meters of vertical progress that day, leaving them perched at 8000m for the night, just 47 meters below the summit. The next morning, July 16, marked the completion of their upward journey and the creation of a new direct variation.

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In 2009, according to altitudepakistan.blogspot.com, an Iranian team tried to climb a new southwest face route but were unsuccessful due to health problems. Since the initial endeavor, several Iranian teams attempted to summit Broad Peak via the same route.

To the right of the 2013 variation is a route authored by Sergei Samoilov and Denis Urubko, who described Broad Peak as "one of the most difficult mountains in my life." Together they made the alpine-style ascent of the route, the Southwest Face (5.10d A2 M6+ 70 degrees, 2546m), summiting July 25, 2005.

After summiting earlier this month, the Iranians planned to descend the normal route via the West Ridge in order to reach Camp III by the evening. But complex terrain held the trio at a bivy at 7700m for two nights while they waited for better conditions.

On July 18, the climbers hoped to climb 100m back up to the normal route and descend to Base Camp. They radioed Base Camp requesting food and water. But the support team waiting at Camp III were busy helping the unwell Ramin Shojaei to descend to Camp II.

According to the Iranian news website Kooh News, Bozorgi contacted Base Camp later that evening and reported his location at what they thought was Broad Peak Pass (7800m). He said that their tent had vanished, one of the climbers was hurt and that they desperately needed food and water. He shared their GPS coordinates to help facilitate the rescue team's mission.

The following day, Base Camp made contact with Bozorgi early in the morning. Two Pakistani porters had climbed up to Camp III the previous night and traversed toward Broad Peak Pass. By 9:00 a.m. Swiss climbers Mike Horn and Fred Roux reached Camp I to aid in the rescue operation. At 10:00 a.m. Bozorgi contacted Base Camp again reiterating their critical situation. Hours later, the Pakistani porters failed to reach the Pass and returned to Camp III. Meanwhile, the Swiss team was approaching Camp II. The Iranian Mountaineering Federation, along with Pakistani officials, Sherpas and other climbers were all working to facilitate the Iranian's rescue.

The next two days were chaotic: communication with the three Iranians had been lost, several climbers were on the mountain searching for them and a rescue helicopter flying around could only assist in taking photos, hoping they might spot the stranded men. Rescuers suspected the climbers had descended the wrong ridge. Two porters from the rescue mission found an Iranian flag on the summit confirming the trio's completion of their new variation up the southwest face.

After several unsuccessful rescue attempts and four days without contact with the climbers. The search was called off July 25, the climbers' bodies never found.

American climber John Quillen was on the mountain this year and shared Base Camp, logistics and meals with the three Iranians. His expedition on Broad Peak was cut short after his partner Brian Moran hurt his leg and was evacuated via a helicopter. During an interview with Raheel Adnan from altitudepakistan.blogspot.com he reflected on his time with Bozorgi, Keivan and Jarahi:

We shared our cultures and I asked days worth of questions about their life in Tehran. Mojtaba spoke of his upcoming marriage and we teased him considerably about it. His good nature was such that he joined us in our ribbing back and forth. I remember one particular time when I asked him about the leather pouch hanging from his neck which contained a miniature copy of the Koran. He happily opened the book and handed it to me to peruse while proudly conveying that his fiancee had made the purse for him. He was a devout Muslim and prayed several times per day.

Aidin was kind of the ringleader of the three. His English was better than most of the group although we never had any trouble communicating with any of them. Some things are just universal. Any time we would board a bus, begin a hike or commence with a meal, those guys always deferred to us out of pure politeness. And they would insist that we go or be served first. I would grumble and groan and Aidin's standard response was, "It's alright, you go!" There was simply no way to argue with his award winning and genuine smile."

Regarding Pouya, as mentioned, his English was minimal so all discussions with him were done through Aidin or Ramin's translation. However, I will always remember the day he came running up to me outside of Urdukas early in the morning to hand deliver my sun cap that I had left in the dining tent. It was important that he get that to me before the blistering sun inevitably beat down. He was always doing little things for others in that vein and always giggling. I teased him about giggling so much but was really envious. Since I was sick a large portion of the trip, I envied his joviality.

Scott Powri, a teammate of Quillen's, told Raheel Adnan:

Iran could not have picked better representatives for the country. These men were strong climbers, intelligent and not afraid. They were also understanding, compassionate and giving. In reality, I did not know them for very long. I am so affected by their loss because of how strong an impression they left on me. They were remarkable people that I will remember for the rest of my life and feel privileged for being able to spend time with them. Thank You for allowing me to know them.

Sources: Alpinist 15, altitudepakistan.blogspot.com

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