As of 3:30 am, Monday, February 8, 2021,(Pakistan Standard Time), John Snorri, Muhammad Ali Sadpara, and Juan Pablo (JP) Mohr Prieto remain missing, with no trace of them found after multiple helicopter searches.
We are learning more about what happened at the Bottleneck directly from Ali’s son, Sajid. Of note, he said he and his father were climbing without supplemental oxygen but had a bottle in their pack for emergencies. Also, when he left the three missing climbers, they had no radio or satellite phone. He believes they summited and had an accident on the descent in the Bottleneck, but he cannot be sure.
There has been no official communication from Snorri or Ali or JP’s home teams to the public.
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Sajid Ali Sadpara made this statement from Skardu where he was flown by an army helicopter. He went up with the helicopter to approximately 7,800 meters, but saw no signs of the missing climbers. Pakistani Ali Madad, who lives in Tenerife, has translated the following statements of Sajid Ali, made upon the latter’s arrival in Skardu. Thanks to Desnivel for sharing the translation:
“We started the ascent at 11 or 12 at night. As we ascended, we passed the groups of the Sherpa expedition descending. At about 8,200 meters, at the Bottleneck, I felt that I was not feeling well, I was lacking oxygen [up to that point Sajid and his father had ascended without using artificial oxygen]. My father told me to use the oxygen from the client [John Snorri] because there was enough.
“When I was putting the regulator on, the oxygen started to leak because it didn’t fit well. As I was not feeling well, my father told me to go down, while they continued up. At 12 o’clock I began to descend towards Camp 3, which I arrived at at 5 in the afternoon. I spoke to the base camp and explained that my teammates were trying to reach the top and that the next day we would descend together. They did not carry a satellite phone or walkie talkie.
“I made tea and hot water and then left a light on so they could find the store. I was all night without sleep, waiting for them.In the morning I called base camp to say that no one had arrived and the leader told me that, please, I had to go down because the weather was going to get worse, I was tired and it could be worse for me. He told me that he was going to send a rescue group from base camp.He told me that he was going to send a rescue group from base camp.He told me that he was going to send a rescue group from base camp.
“I think they reached the summit. They must have had the accident on the descent because at night it started to get very windy. They have been eight thousand meters for two days, at that height in winter I have no hope that they are alive. There are very few.
“If possible, I would greatly appreciate doing another search to find my father’s body.”
Sajid Ali ended by thanking everyone involved in the search efforts: the families of Juan Pablo and John, the Pakistani army, the Sherpas from the other expeditions, the other mountaineers, and the media.
(Pakistani Ali Madad, who translated Sajid’s words, is a native of the Hunza Valley. For 7 years he has lived in Tenerife with his wife, Sonia Fariña, whom he met in Pakistan, and his daughter Naia.)
Chhang Dawa Sherpa of Seven Summit Treks (SST) gave this update on the last helicopter search:
“… Second flight in the afternoon by 2 Army helicopters (along with Sajid and I) made a search (with an aerial reconnaissance) for an hour up to its maximum limit: 7800m to locate missing climbers Ali, John Snorri, and Juan Pablo Mohr in K2. We went through the Abruzzi and other routes, we had less weather visibility above C 4, unfortunately, no trace at all. The wind above 6400m is still 40KM.”
Apparently the searchers looked at both routes, Abruzzi and Česen, because they believed the missing climbers could have come down the Česen.
This is the video of Sajid Ali’s interview with Skardu TV:
Chhang Dawa Sherpa also shared several photos taken from the helicopter search, one of which follows:
There is no 100% confirmed news if Ali Sadpara, Snorri and JP summited or what happened to them They were the only climbers on K2 as of this Sunday. JP had been climbing without supplemental oxygen when they went missing.
The three, along with Ali’s 22-year-old son, Sajid Ali Sadpara, left Camp 3 for a summit push around 11:00 pm Thursday night. They planned on moving fast, hoping to summit around 2:00 pm on Friday, just before the next wave of high winds was expected to hit the summit. They reached the Bottleneck when Sajid had a problem with his oxygen regulator and had to return to Camp 3. He returned alone, while the other three men, presumably, continued higher. This was the last report of their status, now roughly three days ago. Sajid waited at Camp 3 for over a day. He did a short search but, with no O’s and not acclimatized without it, it was very dangerous. He found no trace of his father or the other two climbers and saw no headlamps on his sortie.
The only K2 summits thus far in the winter of 2020/21 were by the team of nine Sherpas and one Majar on January 16, 2021. Nirmal “Nims” Purja Magar summited without supplemental oxygen, accompanied by nine teammates. They held hands and stood on the summit together singing the Nepali National anthem.
There have been two deaths on K2 this season, Spanish mountaineer Sergi Mingote, who fell between Camp 1 and Advanced Base Camp, and Bulgarian climber Atanas Skatov, who fell just below Camp 3. Another climber, Russian/American Alex Goldfarb perished while acclimatizing for Broad Peak on nearby Pastori Peak.
— December 5, 2020 – John Snorri Sigurjonsson’s team (John Snorri Sigurjonsson, Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Sajid Ali Sadpara) arrives at Base Camp. He had hired Muhammad Ali Sadpara and Sajid Ali Sadpara to support his climb
— December 13 – Snorri’s team fixed 600 meters of rope on the lower part of K2 above Advanced Base Camp on the Abruzzi Spur
— December 17 – Snorri’s team finishes fixing the ropes from ABC to C1
— December 20 – Mingma G and his two Sherpa teammates fix the lines to C2
— December 27 – Snorri’s team does its first acclimatization rotation to C1 at 19,965’/6050m
— December 29 – Snorri’s team reaches C2 and talks about steep ice and rockfall, plus high winds and extreme cold
— December 29 – Mingma G’s team fixes the ropes to near the top of the Black Pyramid, around 7,300 meters
— December 30 – Snorri’s team returns to BC
— December 30 – All of the Seven Summits Treks’ 40+ person team is now at Base Camp
— January 3, 2021 – Snorri’s team climbs to C2 at 22,110’/6700m
— January 4 – Snorri’s team returns to K2 Base Camp at 18,650ft/5650m and is held there by poor weather
— January 10 – High winds destroy C2, blowing away a lot of gear for all all teams
— January 13 – Snorri’s team climbs from BC to C2 in one push for more acclimatization
— January 14 – Nims’ and Mingma G’s teams join forces to fix ropes to 7,600 meters, near traditional C4
— January 15 – Snorri’s team tags C3 at 23,760’/7200m and returns to C2. They choose not to join the 10 Nepalese climbers—the K2 Ten—on their successful summit push and return to BC
— January 16 – The K2 Ten achieve the first winter summit of K2
— January 16 – Sergi Mingote falls to his death while descending between C1 and ABC
— January 17 – Alex Goldfarb dies after falling into a crevasse on Pastore Peak while acclimatizing for Broad Peak with Zoltán Szlankó
— January 17 – The Snorri team goes to Pastore to help search for Goldfarb
— January 24 – Snorri’s team launches first summit push in a narrow weather window. They reach C3 but quickly return to BC due to high winds at 6,800 meters
— January 30 – John tells me from Base Camp, “We 3 are pretty sure if there will be any chance to reach the summit in this window we will. And we are looking forward to stand on the summit with the Pakistani flag and Icelandic flag Want to make our nations proud ??“
— February 2 – John posts, “We are aiming for the summit on the 5th February, Friday morning at noon PKT. On the 3rd at 04.00 PKT we will start our climbing and go from base camp to camp 2, our C2 is located under [House’s] chimney. We will rest there over night. Next morning on the 4th at 08.00 PKT we go from C2 up the Black Pyramid to regular camp 3 and rest there over the day. The same day 4th of January we start our summit push at 21.00 PKT and are aiming it will take us 15 to 16 hours to get on the summit. Today I am feeling emotional and excitement towards the summit push, we have been here for long time. It has filled our hearts with gratitude to hear about all the support we have from people all over the world. Hopefully this will be our window to make it to the winter summit of K2.”
— February 3 – Seeing another window, albeit narrow, Snorri’s team returns to C2
— February 4 – Snorri’s team climbs to C3 along with almost 20 other people seeking the summit. A lack of tents forces Snorri and team to share their tent with others, in some cases having six people in a three-person tent.
— February 4 – It is reported that Snorri’s team left C3 for the summit around 11:00 pm on February 4, 2021. Apparently JP joins the three, after his partner Tamara Lunger turns back when not feeling healthy enough to climb. It’s now a four person team. The Sadparas and JP are climbing without the aid of supplemental oxygen. It’s unclear if Snorri was on O’s, but he expressed his desire to attempt the climb without. The team’s GPS tracker shows a very erratic track, but this is not unusual for these devices. Eventually the batteries give out in the cold and stop sending a signal. (The device tells the battery status with each transmission.)
— February 4 – High winds and extreme cold cause most of the SST climbers to return to Base Camp, many report frostbite.
— February 4 – Dawa Sherpa declares that no one from the SST current summit push will summit K2 this time
— February 5 – Bulgarian climber Atanas Skatov dies from a fall just below C3
— February 5 – Around 10:00 am, Sajid starts using supplemental oxygen due to fatigue, but his regulator is not working properly. Unknown if it was equipment failure or if the regulator was improperly attached to the cylinder, which is common, especially at altitude. Sajid turns back at the urging of his father. This is the last report of anyone seeing Snorri, Ali and JP. They were in the Bottleneck at the time.
— February 5 – Sajid leaves C3 for a brief search for his father and the missing climbers but sees no evidence or even headlamps in the dark
— February 6 – Sajid returns to Base Camp at the urging of Dawa Sherpa and others, all concerned for his safety.
— February 6 – Two Pakistani military helicopters (they always fly in pairs, due to the ongoing conflict with India) reach 7,000 meters, between C2 and C3, but find nothing. They return to Skardu due to high winds
— February 7 – Another helicopter with a higher operating ceiling up to 7,800 meter searches near K2’s shoulder but finds no evidence of the climbers. Photos are to be inspected closer at Base Camp and elsewhere for traces of the missing climbers
— February 7 – Sajid gives an interview to Skardu TV saying he doesn’t believe his teammates survived. He says he believes they summited and that an accident occurred in the Bottleneck during the descent. He asks for the search to continue, to bring his father’s body back home
At this point future search plans are unclear given the poor weather on K2. Also unknown are the plans for the remaining people at K2 Base Camp. The next time people will return to K2 will be for the 2021 summer season in July.
Who Are They?
Muhammad Ali Sadpara
Muhammad Ali Sadpara (Pakistan) was born in the village of Sadpara, on the outskirts of Skardu, and was by far one of the strongest climbers at K2 this winter. He has eight summits of 8000ers, including four on Nanga Parbat, and the first winter summit of Nanga Parbat with Simone Moro and Alex Txikon in 2016. He attempted Everest along with Alex Txikon in January 2018 but conditions stopped them. They were trying a no Os summit.
— Gasherbrum II (Pakistan) in 2006
— Spantik Peak (Pakistan) in 2006
— Nanga Parbat (Pakistan) in 2008
— Muztagh Ata (China) in 2008
— Nanga Parbat (Pakistan) in 2009
— Gasherbrum I (Pakistan) in 2010
— Nanga Parbat First Winter Ascent (Pakistan) in 2016
— Broad Peak (Pakistan) in 2017
— Nanga Parbat First Autumn Ascent (Pakistan) in 2017
— Pumori Peak First Winter Ascent (Nepal) in 2017
— K2 (Pakistan) in 2018
— Lhotse (Nepal) in 2019
— Makalu (Nepal) in 2019,
— Manaslu (Nepal) in 2019.
Ali was recently told that the rest of his 8000-meter attempts would be sponsored by the Pakistan government, to which he responded:
“I can’t express my feelings after hearing the news of the sponsorship to complete my dream of climbing all 14×8000. I’m so thankful to Khalid Khurshid Khan Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan and Minister of Tourism GB Raja Nasir Ali Khan for making this possible by sponsoring my remaining 6 peaks. Let’s make Pakistan proud. Thanks for believing in me brothers.”
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Juan Pablo “JP” Mohr Prieto
Juan Pablo Mohr Prieto (Chile) has an impressive list of climbing achievements including these 8000ers, all without supplemental oxygen:
— Annapurna in 2017
— Manaslu in 2018
— Everest in 2019
— Lhotse in 2019 (6 days after Everest, with Ali)
— Dhaulagiri in 2019 (with Ali)
JP discussed climbing 8000-meter peaks in in a December 2020 interview with Desnivel:
“I believe that each of these experiences in the mountains makes you stronger. When you are above 6,000 or 7,000 meters, all emotions are stronger than in normal life and that is one of the things that motivates you to return to these mountains. Apart also from the aesthetic and how happy one feels. In my case, I believe that the mountain is the place where I belong and where I feel happiest. That is the energy that I want to come and take to these places so that I can get home transmitting this same energy to my family, my friends and everyone.”
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John Snorri Sigurjonsson
John Snorri Sigurjonsson (Iceland) is a professional mountaineer. This was his third expedition to K2, following a summit in 2018 and a winter attempt in 2019. His 8000er achievements include:
— Lhotse in 2017
— K2 in 2017
— Broad Peak in 2017
— Manaslu in 2019
His website bio reads:
“Born in 1973 and raised in the countryside of Ölfus, Iceland, John Snorri excelled at sports at an early age, and later found his physical and mental passion in mountain climbing. Growing up in Iceland, John Snorri has spent his life exploring the rugged wilderness that surrounds him. It is this strong connection to nature and the drive to conquer his own physical limitations in a measurable way that has fueled his passion for mountain climbing.
“For him, the climb isn’t solely to reach the mountain peak but also to exemplify the immense human potential that is often underestimated. Mind over mountain.”
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Alan Arnette is a speaker, mountaineer and Alzheimer’s Advocate. He has completed over 30 major expeditions including four Everest climbs, with a summit in 2011, and a summit of K2 in 2014. He completed his 7 Summits Climb for Alzheimer’s project to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research. Find out more at www.alanarnette.com.