This just in from Banjo Bannons Home Team:
"Banjo, Jacek and the remaining three Russian climbers have arrived in Base Camp after an emotional and exhausting descent from Camp 3. Sadly it has been confirmed by the leader of the Russian team and their Liaison Officer that the missing 4 Russian climbers died as a result of the avalanche on Sunday."
"Further information from Banjo is that at least one of the climbers was on the summit which was about 50 feet away from him when the avalanche struck."
"Banjo would like to extend his deepest sympathies to the families of the deceased as we all would at this distressing time. He would also like to extend his thanks to all those who have given him support throughout this climb. Due to the circumstances it's as close as he will ever get as he's said, 'I'll never be back'".
"Banjo is now resting in Base Camp, planning his journey home. He is not expected to arrive in Ireland until the 27th August following an inquest into the deaths."
Russian Climb: "We have no information"
RussianClimb meanwhile reports today, "no news from the Siberian team and Serguey Bogomolov since August, 10. We know about the avalanche, but don't know who is missing..." ExplorersWeb has had also confirming reports from Islamabad, but no further details.
August 13 - a dark date on K2
The avalanche hit K2's upper slope on Sunday, August 13. This is the second largest single-day tragedy on K2.
On Agust 13, 1995, six climbers; New Zealander Bruce Grant, British Alison Hargreaves (f), American Rob Slater, and Spanish Javier Escartín; Javier Olivar; Lorenzo Ortiz disappeared during storm.
In 1986, on August 10, four climbers died on K2 in the same day. British Alan Rouse, Polish Dobroslawa Miodowicz-Wolf (f), and Austrian Alfred Imitzer and Hannes Wieser all died of altitude-sickness/exhaustion. 1986 turned out the worst overall season on K2 after 13 climbers lost their lives on the Mountaineer's mountain.
(Ed note - story updated Aug 15, 12.30 pm: Russian news source Novosti reports that Pakistan's rescue teams are searching for the four Russian mountaineers. Naiknam Karim, a spokesman for Adventure Tours Pakistan, told the news source that a mountain guide reported the Russian climbers missing two days ago, and asked for a rescue helicopter to be sent as soon as possible. However, helicopters were grounded at the time due to bad weather conditions. The spokesman said the Russian climbers were well-prepared, and could still be found alive.)
Word arrived yesterday morning that an avalanche had swept K2's summit slope Sunday, at about noon (local time). At the time of the avalanche, the Russians, Banjo and Jacek were on their summit attempt. Although bad weather had persisted over the last few days Jacek and the Russians had made it as far as Camp 4 by Saturday (Aug 12), but reported they had a hard time due to deep snow. In spite of unusually good weather this season, K2 have had only 4 confirmed summits in 2006. Most climbers reported they were forced to abort their summit pushes in fear of constant avalanches and rock falls, triggered by the warm temperatures.
K2 teams homesites:
Russian Climb | Nives Meroi (Italian) | Wilco van Rooijen (Dutch/English) | Irish Banjo Bannon's website | FTA's team dispatches on Anan Arnette's website | Tokai University K2 expedition (Japanese)
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