Nanga Parbat: still no contact with Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard. Alex Txikon also available for rescue mission
The situation has not changed on Nanga Parbat where, since Sunday 24 February, there has been no news or contact with Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard who have been climbing the Mummery Rib. This morning - if permission to fly is granted - Basque mountaineer Alex Txikon should arrive at base camp in order to support with a drone search.
Update 13:15 (17:15 Pakistan time)
Unfortunately today the helicopters could not fly despite having been authorised to do so. This, according to the official Fb page of Daniele Nardi, firstly due to problems related to the "advance payment of the important sum necessary for transfers of personnel from K2 base camp Nanga Parbat base camp." Secondly - once the situation was resolved thanks to the interest of Italy via its Ambassador Stefano Pontecorvo - the worsening of the weather that prevented the Basque mountaineer from being transported from K2 base camp to Nanga Parbat. Today therefore it was not possible to make any reconnaissance flights with the drones that Txikon has made available for rescue. Meanwhile "Ali Sadpara, with the other two Pakistani mountaineers, left this morning on foot from Nanga Parbat base camp and ascended close to Camp 1. Now they are returning to base camp."
Published at 8:00 on 1/03/2019
According to the official Fb page of Daniele Nardi, this morning the rescue operation program consists of flying to K2 Base Camp to pick up the mountaineer Alex Txikon who "with 3 of his team, including a doctor, will be transported from K2 base camp to Nanga Parbat Base Camp and subsequently to a position closer to the Diamir face, closer to Camp 1. From there Txikon will use three powerful drones designed for long high altitude flights and he will search the entire area around the Mummery Rib, up to the plateau above and along all hypothetical lines that the climbers may have taken.” The Italian Embassy in Islamabad with the support of the Pakistani Army "is working on receiving permits for the helicopters to take off”, seeing that the area is still subject to the recent violent tensions between India and Pakistan.
Needless to say, the Basque climber knows the mountain extremely well and is particularly suited for an operation of this sort. As everyone will no doubt remember, Txikon together with Simone Moro and Ali Sadpara - who flew to Nanga Parbat base camp yesterday to make a first reconnaissance - completed the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat in 2016 after various failed attempts previously.
The Russian alpinists on K2 who yesterday had offered to search by land, in agreement with the rescue organisation, have instead decided to renounce “due to the high risk of avalanches on Nanga Parbat".
Everyone is now waiting for the helicopters: "The weather, although worsened by yesterday is still sufficiently good for helicopters to fly; at present flight authorisation is being awaited seeing that Pakistani airspace is still closed due to military tensions between Pakistan and India. The Italian Ambassador Pontecorvo is in constant contact with the General Staff of the Pakistani Air Force and with the rescue organisation."