(Newsdesk) In 2009, Iranian climbers attempted to conquer Broad Peak via a new route from the Southwest Face. This year, Iranians Aidin Bozorgi, Pouya Keivan and Mojtaba Jarahi reached the summit via the new route on July 16th. The descent proofed more complicated than expected and they called for help when they were not able to return to Camp 3.
In the subsequent search and rescue (SAR) operation Thomas Laemmle, the Amical alpin leader, was asked to help. Today Thomas posted a report about his completion and conclusion of the SAR operation with the 5th Pakistan Army Aviation Squadron.
Search and Rescue operation (SAR) for three lost Iranian climbers on Broad Peak
By Thomas Laemmle
18. July 2013
Together with 7 clients and 1 HAP I summited Gasherbrum II and descended to Camp 3.
19. July 2013
From camp 3 I skied and climbed down to Base Camp.
20. July 2013
We packed our equipment in BC and at 12:00 we started our trekking back to Askole. First stop should be Concordia. On the way down to Concordia Naiknam Karim got in touch with me (Thuraya) and asked for help on Broad Peak. He told me three Iranians are stranded in Camp 4 and are not able to descend. I offered my help, but only if an army helicopter would set me up between 6000 and 6500m together with oxygen. I asked him also about the possibility of a sling rescue (which I was willing to do) higher up the mountain.
Naiknam wanted to get in touch with the army and discuss the possibilities of a helicopter rescue in extreme altitude. Later in the evening he called me back. The army offered to set me up on the mountain as high as possible the next day. They denied a sling rescue. Naiknam told me that meanwhile only one Iranian climber is alive (he called his home team on July 19th) and this one is somewhere around Camp 4. I asked for 3 bottles of oxygen, 2 masks and 2 regulators. My idea was to climb up to this mountaineer, give him a dexamethason injection and oxygen and descend with him to 6500 m where the helicopters could pick us up.
21. July 2013
My group left at 5:00 am Concordia. I was waiting in my downsuit until 8:00 am when two Ecureuil AStar AS 350 helicopter from the Pakistan army landed (the best high altitude SAR helicopters). We did 3 flights up to 8000m - the limit of the helis - on BP and made photos of the area we thought they are. I was always in my downsuit ready to drop out, if we see someone. But we saw nobody, not even any sign of the three missing climbers. We mainly searched in the rocks of the foresummit (called rocky summit).
Back in Skardu we checked the photos but had also no findings. Later the day we got the coordinates of the last phone call from Thuraya / UAE. With Google earth we found the location on the mountain and again checked my photos - nothing. It looked like the climbers took the wrong ridge down from rocky summit of BP. The last call was made at around 7500m in a rocky area on the Pakistani side of the mountain.
The climber from Iran who did the last call told his home team that he is off the normal route surrounded by rocks but could see the tent of Camp 3. With this information and the coordinates of the Thuraya call, we marked the possible area where this person could be on an aerial photo I made.
22. July 2013
The Iranian embassy asked for a second search-flight with my participation. "It was not my idea to fly again up to Broad Peak, but tomorrow morning will be the last chance to locate persons or bodies on the mountain. From tomorrow until 26th bad weather moves in and snow might cover everything. I will not carry any rescue equipment because of changing weather it is not possible to do a rescue.
More or less we will try to locate the bodies of the climbers for a maybe later evacuation. We believe all of them are dead - sorry! I am actually somehow scared about our flights tomorrow because we are flying at the limit of the helicopters when flying that high. I will risk my life to locate these bodies because there seems to be nobody else around."
23. July 2012
We tried to start early with the helicopters from Skardu. The earlier, the colder the air and the higher the helicopters can fly. Due to clouds in the approaching valley we reached Broad Peak BC as late as 9:00 pm. Helicopters can only fly on sight! In BC we waited again for a big hole in the clouds to fly up to the summit region. But bad weather moved already in. High wind and clouds prevented us to flight higher than 7500m. The upper part of the mountain was covered in clouds and it was already snowing. No chance to reach the area we wanted to search for the bodies. By 12:00 we called the search flights off and flew back to Skardu.
16:00 press conference in Skardu
"Today there was a final press conference in Skardu where I could state my opinion. I strongly believe none of the three Iranian climbers is alive anymore, due to the high altitude where they are now for one week and dehydration.
My second statement is, that there is no chance to evacuate their bodies because they are far away from the normal route in an altitude of minimum 7500 m. Helicopters will only evacuate people/bodies up to 5800m. Higher up everything has to be done by humans. There have been evacuations before in this altitude but only on the normal route. We do have two clues where the bodies might be:
1) last Thuraya phone call and
2) yellow spot on a photo.
Both locations are above 7500m off the normal route and 500m in altitude away from the summit and the normal route. No chance for evacuation!
I believe as a mountaineer these three climbers don't want to risk someone's life to get their dead bodies down. Two porters found the Iranian flag on top of the main summit. Therefore the Iranian route on BP was successfully completed by the three climbers. It seems they took the wrong ridge down the rocky summit - the only mistake they made!"
high altitude physiologist
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