K2 has embraced him forever, says son
The family of Pakistani mountaineer Muhammad Ali Sadpara has declared him dead. He went missing on February 5 while attempting the winter summit of K2.
K2 has embraced my father forever, said his son Sajid Sadpara while addressing a press conference by Gilgit Baltistan Tourism Minister Raja Nasir Ali Khan and the climbers' families on Thursday. "May God give my family the strength to deal with this loss."
He added, "I want to assure the mountaineering community across the world that my father's mission will continue."
Speaking on SAMAA TV earlier this month, Sajid said that he waited 20 hours for his father and his companions before descending K2. "The last time I talked to my father he told me to join him in the ascent to the peak of K2," he said, adding that he couldn't continue because of problems with his oxygen regulator.
Sadpara, Iceland's John Snorri, and Juan Pablo Mohr from Chile were last seen at the Bottleneck of the mountain. The Pakistan Army launched a search operation but their efforts were thwarted by harsh weather conditions.
Last week, a press release by Pakistan Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa O’Brien said that rescue teams had "scrutinised satellite images, used SAR technology, scanned hundreds of pictures, plotted more points, re-read summit plans, and checked testimonials and timings".
"Unfortunately, the leads turned out to be a sleeping bag, torn tents or sleeping pads. None of these were Ali Sadpara, John Snorri or Juan Pablo Mohr," the document read.
Sajid revealed, in an earlier interview, that his father had one dream: to hoist Pakistan's flag on K2. "He always told me it's our mountain and Pakistanis should be the ones to climb it."
Sadpara's last portrait was shared by filmmaker Elia Saikaly on his Instagram account, who had accompanied the climbers on their expedition. He recalled that Sadpara would tell him that K2 is the 'King of Mountains'.
"Ali had the deepest respect for the crown jewel of Pakistan’s Karakoram," he wrote.
Only three of the 11 siblings born in a village outside Skardu survived their childhood. The youngest of them is Muhammad Ali Sadpara, who built his career as a flip-flop-wearing high-altitude porter.
His first playground was the Baltoro Glacier.
With some luck and sheer determination, Ali joined expeditions on the great mountains. There are 14 mountains in the world higher than 8,000 metres. Sadpara has scaled eight of them. They are the Gasherbrum II, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I, Broad Peak and K2 in Pakistan, and Lhotse, Manslu and Makalu in Nepal.
He was a member of expeditions that completed the first winter and autumn ascents of Nanga Parbat and the first winter ascent of the Pumori Peak in Nepal.
Teammate Alex Txicon and Simone Moro give the credit for the winter summit of Nanga Parbat to Sadpara’s brilliance. The trio succeeded in their second attempt in 2016 after having failed a year earlier.
In 2018, Txicon and Sadpara teamed up to attempt a winter climb of Mount Everest without any supplemental oxygen. But they could not succeed.