Feb. 18 (UPI) — Pakistani authorities Thursday officially declared dead three climbers who went missing Feb. 5 while trying to climb the world’s second-highest peak.
Well-known Pakistani mountaineer Muhammad Ali Sadpara along with Iceland’s John Snorri Sigurjonsson and Juan Pablo Mohr Prieto, of Chile, went missing near the Bottleneck on K2 while attempted the reach the summit of the treacherous peak, also known as Savage Mountain.
K2, the highest point on the Karakoram mountain range at 28,251 feet above sea level, sits on the Pakistan-China border. Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak is 29,021 feet above sea level.
Ali Sadpara’s son, Sajid Sadpara, had initially joined the three but had to turn back early in the climb when his oxygen regulator malfunctioned. He attended Thursday’s news conference in Skardu, Pakistan.
Bad weather repeatedly prevented rescue teams from doing thorough searches for the climbers until recently. Officials said the search for them will continue.
“The overwhelming love and support for the ‘national hero Ali Sadpara’ has given immense strength to me, my younger brothers, my sister, and my mother,” Sajid Sadpara said. “My family and I have lost a kindhearted person and the Pakistani nation has lost a brave and great adventurous individual who was passionate about the Pakistani flag to the point of insanity.”
Pakistan President Arif Alvi shared his condolences on social media.
“May Allah grant this brave man eternal place in Jannah,” Alvi said on Twitter. “He battled nature with strength, fortitude and heroism. Condolences to the families and citizens, of Iceland’s John Snorri Sigurjonsson and Chile’s Juan Pablo Mohr Prieto.”
Sigurjonsson’s family said in a Facebook post that they believe the men actually reached the summit, based on Sigurjonsson’s cell phone records, but something happened on their way down.
“There is no doubt in our minds that the extent of the search and the technologies used in the search were unprecedented and hopefully will improve the safety of future mountaineers around the world,” Sigurjonsson’s family said.
“The Pakistani Army has been extremely supportive in these difficult times sharing resources and manpower. To the brave people of the Pakistani armed forces we say thank you for caring for Ali, John and Juan Pablo,” the family said.