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Nanga Parbat: Search For Ballard and Nardi Continues Despite Reports to the Contrary

Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi were last heard from on Sunday, February 24, while trying to make the first winter ascent of the Mummery Spur on Nanga Parbat (8,126 meters).

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Tom Ballard (left) and Daniele Nardi on Nanga Parbat earlier this winter. Photo: Courtesy of Daniele Nardi’s Facebook Page.

Helicopters, drones and humans have swept the west face of Nanga Parbat—from the Mummery Spur to the Kinshofer Route—for 10 days. While Daniele Nardi, 42, and Tom Ballard, 30, are widely presumed to have perished on the mountain, search and rescue efforts nonetheless continue (despite widely reported news to the contrary).

Stefano Pontecorvo, the Italian Ambassador to Pakistan, told the Press Association, a U.K. news outlet, on the evening of Wednesday, March 6: “The search is still on tomorrow. People who had second hand information then tweeted and it becomes truth. It’s never been called off.

“I am no expert in this and I must trust the experts’ advice. I think we’ve got among the best on the ground that there is now and also pretty technologically advanced equipment.

“Until they tell me that there is no scope to continue I’d say that together with the family I’d encourage them to go forward.

“If we come to a point in which everything possible has been done and nothing has been found, at that point it will be up to the families – although advised by us – to call it off. We’re not there yet.”

[Also Read Memories of alison Hargreaves]

On Wednesday morning, the Basque climber Alex Txikon and several other rescuers had explored on foot the Kinshofer Route—an adjacent route to the Mummery Spur and the site of the snow-filled tent first seen during a helicopter recon on the evening of Thursday, February 28. According to one of the rescue coordinators, Shamyl Sharafat Ali, “No sign of climbers was detected.” Following this, Txikon and his team returned to Nanga Parbat base camp due to high avalanche risk on the mountain.

According to a tweet by Ambassador Pontecorvo, however, Txikon reported seeing “two silhouettes on the [Mummery] trail on #NangaParbat that he is further exploring.”

Helicopter recons to explore the mystery silhouettes were being planned for Thursday, March 7, but the closure of Pakistani airspace kept the choppers grounded.

In an update he provided to Rock and Ice, Shamyl Sharafat Ali said on Thursday morning, “A formation of Pakistan Army Aviation is standing by a Skardu AAB [Army Air Base] since early this morning. Unfortunately the airspace in the north of Pakistan has been totally closed again becasue of severe tensions with India. The formation is waiting for the airspace to open to run a mission to Nanga Parbat.”

In a subsequent update, Ali reported that Txikon “has descended from Base Camp to Sar Village (2700m),” where he will await the helicopters and, weather and other factors permitting, “run an aerial reconnaissance mission on Mummery spur tomorrow [Friday, March 8].”

Full Recap of Rescue Timeline:
Tom Ballard And Daniel Nardi Missing On Nanga Parbat; Rescue Operation Underway
Nanga Parbat: Helicopters Search For Ballard And Nardi, Possible Signs Of Avalanche
Nanga Parbat: New Avalanche On Mummery Spur; Weather Hampers Rescue Effort
Nanga Parbat: No Sign of Ballard or Nardi; Txikon and Drones Begin Search