On February 18, the rescue operation at K2 was canceled. Three mountaineers who went missing in the area of the summit were presumed dead. The Karakoram and Himalayas are a burial ground for nearly 1,000 climbers. Most of their bodies are still under the snow.
The Himalayas have been taking their toll for over 100 years. And since mountaineering has been in vogue recently and companies organize commercial expeditions, more and more people are dying there. First of all, on the way to Mount Everest (who has not seen the photo from 2019 with a long queue waiting to enter), but also to other peaks.
Mount Everest, K2 and Nanga Parbat are the largest cemeteries in the Himalayas and Karakoram. The latter is the resting place of 45-year-old Muhammad Ali Sadpara from Pakistan, 47-year-old Icelandic John Snorri and 33-year-old Chilean Juan Pablo Mohr. Pakistani authorities believe they captured K2, but did not safely descend to the camp at 7,300 meters. It all happened a month after 10 Nepalese people achieved their historic achievement – climbing K2 in the winter.
We had the last big tragedy for K2 13 years ago, in August 2008. The second and fourth seracs broke off. Ten climbers and a porter were killed in one fell swoop. Three other people were killed in the same expedition. In August 1995, seven climbers died descending from the summit. They were surprised by a snowstorm.
Avalanches have caused many casualties. In 2004, she killed three Koreans, and two years later two Russians. The avalanche began a series of tragedies between June and August 1986. It was the most tragic period under K2. A total of 13 people died then, including Poles Tadeusz Piotrowski (fell from a height), Wojciech Wróż (missing) and Dobrosława Miodowicz-Wolf (died of altitude sickness).
The first official victim of K2 is the American Dudley Wolf, who contracted altitude sickness on his way to the summit. He had mental problems. When his companions came for him, he refused to go down. The next day, three Sherpas came for him. Both they and Wolf died. It was July 1939.
In 1939, the first Polish expedition to the Himalayas also took place. It happened just before the outbreak of World War II. During the attack on the summit of Tirsula (7074 m), an avalanche that killed two climbers: Stefan Bernadzikiewicz and Adam Karpiński. Due to this tragedy, Poles stopped hiking in the highest mountain range in the world for almost 30 years.
We returned to the Himalayas in the 1970s. Unfortunately, more of our climbers were dying. The death of Zbigniew Stepek and Andrzej Grzązek in an ice avalanche (the bodies have never been found) on the way to CB12 inspired Budka Suflera to record the song Cień Wielka Góra. – Once a friend who entered Everest on the normal route told me that I would have to go there to understand those who do it – wrote the performer of the piece Krzysztof Cugowski in a column for Wirtualna Polska. – Once a man enters, he necessarily wants to do it again. The list of those who never returned is long, but their successors feel no fear.
In 1975, Poles climbed the first eight-thousanders – Broad Peak Middle. However, as I was descending the mountain, there was a wind. They only had one 80-meter rope. They had no tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, or even a water cooker. They descended using a makeshift rope. Marek Kęsicki, Andrzej Sikorski and Bohdan Nowaczyk lost their lives during that trip. Janusz Kuliś survived, but all his toes were amputated.
We have already mentioned the K2 tragedy in 1986. The film “To Touch the Sky” deals with this trip. The protagonists are children of the tragically deceased who followed their parents’ footsteps to the base near K2 to understand them. Łukasz Wolf then lost his mother, Hanna Piotrowska lost his father (she was born after his death). The film features Kurt Diemberger, who was imprisoned in a camp at an altitude of 8,000 meters with Miodowicz-Wolf and Julie Tullis. They died, he survived. However, he had to face accusations that he did not save a Polish woman, some called him a murderer. Luke’s son refers to this matter in the film, he has no complaints against Diemberger.
In 2013, Adam Bielecki and Artur Małek had to face similar accusations as Diemberger. It was after the drama on Broad Peak in which Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski died. After their return, Bielecki and Małek heard the accusation of leaving their partners without eye contact. The report of the commission appointed to investigate the matter stated that they acted against the rules of ethics. Bielecki explained that he had fought for his life himself, that Berbeka, as the more experienced one, should have made the decision to return himself, and not to push himself to the top, knowing that he had already climbed it and that night was approaching and the temperature was lower with it. Berbeka was never found, and Kowalski died of hypothermia. His body was found a few months later. He was buried in the Himalayas.
The list of Polish tragedies in the Himalayas would not be complete if we did not mention the outstanding climbers who lost their lives there. Jerzy Kukuczka, having climbed all eight-thousanders, it would seem that the immortal man never returned from his 1989 expedition to Lhotse. The rope broke, he fell into a two-kilometer chasm, the body was never found. In 1985 Kukuczka saw Rafał Chołda die on the same rock. In fact, he only saw his friend’s backpack slide down. – I heard nothing, no shout or a word – Kukuczka said later about that accident.
In 1992 Kukuczka’s fate was shared by Wanda Rutkiewicz, the first woman to conquer Mount Everest. She lost herself under the peak of Kanchendzonga. She said life tastes better when you can lose it. The last one to see her was Carlos Carsolio. The Mexican climbed the summit and headed back down, she stayed at 8,200 meters to attack the mountain. She was weakened, she did not have a tent and a sleeping bag.
Piotr Morawski died in 2009 during an expedition to Dhaulagiri. It fell into a 25-meter gap. He was pulled out, but it was impossible to save. Artur Hajzer died while climbing Gaszerbrum. He fell off the wall of the Japanese lobby and flew 500 meters down. Two years ago, Tomasz Mackiewicz went missing during the seventh attempt to conquer Nanga Parbat. In total, nearly 60 Poles lost their lives in the Himalayas. The causes of their deaths were varied. Mostly falls and avalanches, but there has also been a drowning event. During the descent through the glacier, Barbara Kozłowska fell into a mountain stream and was pulled under the water by a heavy backpack.
We can see how difficult a challenge the Himalayas are by watching the film Everest. It tells a true story about one of the greatest tragedies under the highest mountain in the world. Eight climbers trapped in the death zone lost their lives. In total, 19 people reached the summit that day. While descending, they were attacked by a snowstorm with lightning. They died from exhaustion and hypothermia.
The picture told about the events of 1996, when in one moment 33 amateurs were trying to reach the top. They were clients of companies organizing such commercial expeditions. Then all the rules were broken. Although it was previously agreed that there would be a return at 2pm, those who had failed to reach the summit by then moved on, and the guides Rob Hall and Scott Fischer did not stop them. They both paid the highest price. Hall did not have the strength to go down and died in the South Point. Before his death, he got through to his New Zealand wife via radio and phone: Sleep well, my darling, and don’t worry too much – those were his last words.
Read more on Polsatsport.pl!
#Mountains #Himalayas #Karakoram #gigantic #graveyard