An avalanche killed alpinist Sebastian Haag of Germany and Italian alpinist Andrea Zambaldi last week during an ascent of Shishapangma, an 8,000-meter peak in Tibet.
Haag and Zambaldi were part of a five-person team attempting to summit Shishapangma in the first stage on the Dynafit Double8 expedition that was attempting to climb and ski two 8,000 meter peaks in just seven days without supplemental oxygen (the other peak was Cho Oyu). The team would cover the distance between the peaks by mountain biking or running. Ueli Steck and German climbers Benedikt Boehm and Martin Maier accompanied them, according to outsideonline.com.
The Double8 Expedition webpage said the team had met at Camp 3 at 2:00 a.m. on September 24. They were just 300 feet below the summit at approximately 6:55 a.m. when an avalanche swept Zimbaldi, Haag and Maier 1,800 feet down the mountain.
Steck and Boehm immediately skied down to search for their teammates, but were unable to find a way to access the avalanche zone.
Maier, who had survived the avalanche, arrived to Camp 3 about 24 hours later. He was immediately moved to Base Camp by a Sherpa rescue team for more medical attention.
According to a German news source, Zimbaldi had blogged the evening before their summit bid, writing, “The snow makes progress really tough. In steep sections we sometimes sink in up to the hip or chest.”
Bohm had also commented on the conditions, writing, “We are so close, but… the avalanche situation is still a bit tense and the deep, windblown snow is killing us.”
Haag was an extreme ski mountaineer who, together with Boehm, held the record for speed-ski mountaineering the 7,500 meter Mutzagata in Tibet and the 8,035 meter Gasherbrum II in the Karakorum region of the Himalayas. Haag, 35, was also a veterinarian in Munich and part of the Dynafit Gore-Tex team.
Zambaldi of Bolzano, Italy, was the Dynafit Marketing Manager and had participated in expeditions to Latin America, North America and Scandanavia. He was 32.
Shishapangma, the lowest of the 8,000-meter peaks and considered one of the easiest to summit, was first climbed by a Chinese team in 1964. In 1999, American mountaineer Alex Lowe died in a massive avalanche on Shishapangma during an expedition to become the first American team to ski down an 8,000-meter peak.
Watch Dynafit’s video about the preparations for the Double8 Expedition.