By Farman Ali
ISLAMABAD: Two Slovenian climbers arrived here on Wednesday to lead a rescue expedition to a mountain in Baltistan where one Slovenian died and another is stranded since Monday.
Tomaz Humar and Ales Kozelj immediately headed straight for
Skardu where other Slovenian climbers are waiting for them to launch the rescue mission, Alpine Club of Pakistan president Nazir Sabir told Dawn.
Tomaz has experience of the effort involved, as he himself had to be rescued from the Nanga Parbat in 2005 when he got stuck up while attempting to scale the ninth highest peak in the world.
A Pakistan army helicopter has meanwhile transported three Slovenian climbers, who were in the area to attempt K7 peak, to Mustagh Tower Base Camp to join the rescue team. Their task will be to bring Dejan Miskovich stranded on the Mustagh Tower to a height below 6,000 meters so that a helicopter could evacuate him to a hospital, he added.
The helicopters will also drop supplies to the climber if needed.
The two Slovenian climbers, Pavle Kozjak and Dejan Miskovic started their climb on the northeast face of the 7,273-metre (23,862-foot) Mustagh Tower in the Karakoram ranges in Baltistan, Nazir Sabir said.
After 15 hours climb, they reached the saddle between the Mustagh Tower and the “sharp peak” to its right from ABC at 5,040-metre on the Younghousband Glacier early Monday. But, Pavle Kozjak fell 200 meters into a chasm when the ridge cornice he was standing on, suddenly broke. Miskovic got stuck at the height of 6,400 meters, where he spent the night without any equipment or food.
He was unhurt but shocked because of the loss of his friend. According to the latest information, Miskovic is currently at around 5,000 meters. So far, strong winds prevented the Pakistani helicopter assisting in the search from rescuing the climber. Pavle’s tragic death is another great loss to the climbing community this year after the K2 tragedy in which 11 climbers lost their lives in the first week of August.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel and State Secretary Andrej Ster also contacted their Pakistani counterparts in an effort to rescue Miskovic, a Slovenian news agency reported.
Officially, he will be considered missing until he is found or confirmed dead by a commission, the agency said.
The 48-year-old Pavle Kozjek had more than 20 years of mountaineering experience and became in 1997 the first Slovenian to climb Mount Everest without the bottled oxygen. He is the 19th Slovenian to die in the Himalayas.
By Farman Ali