K2 breaking news: Wilco found alive!

Posted: Aug 03, 2008 04:32 am EDT

(K2Climb.net) Norit expedition leader Dutch Wilco Van Rooijen has incredibly survived 3 nights exposure on the high slopes of K2.

He is currently in Camp 3, together with Cas and Pemba Sherpa. Yesterday, Wilco was located between camp 4 and 3 on the Cesen route thanks to GPS coordinates on his Thuraya sat phone, and later people in BC spotted him coming down very slowly under his own power.

The Dutch mountaineer, who already scaled Everest without supplementary oxygen and attempted K2 twice before, also has a number of spectacular polar expeditions to his credit.

Norit was the first expedition on the mountain this year, spending over two months there to fix ropes and set up camps. This has provided Wilco with excellent acclimatization which, along with mountaineering skills and polar endurance, contributed to save his life.

Wilco reportedly suffers frostbite, and is not out of danger yet. Still, this survival is bound to go down as one of the greatest mountaineering tales in K2's history.

Story updated Aug02, 1:45 am CDT - ExplorersWeb/Europe: As for italian Marco Confortola, he contacted his mate Roberto Manni earlier today, reporting he was about to start descending from C4 by dawn.

There is also confirmed news on Spanish Alberto Zerain. Alberto had joined the summit push, but climbed ahead of the rest from C4. Thus he was unaware of the Serbian climber falling on the way up. Zerain topped out on August 1st, at 3.00 pm, local time, and descended before the serac swept the fixed ropes. He reached back C3 that night, and safely entered BC on the following day. It was only then that he heard of the drama unfolding on K2's higher slopes.

Story edited Aug4,1:30 am, CDT - Alberto Zerain has not summited Broad Peak; a peak he planned to climb after K2. However, the attempt has been finally aborted.

Go to Norit website for continuous updates.

Marco Confortola's website.

Zerain's team blog.


On August 1 at 1 am local time, Norwegian, Dutch, French, Italian, Serbian, Korean, Pakistan and Nepali climbers started their summit push from camp 4. Going well ahead of schedule, a few hours into the ascent a Serbian accident held the Dutch up somewhat.

The Norwegians and French Hugues dAubarade reportedly summited before the Dutch and Irish Gerard (it's unclear yet who used supplementary oxygen) and were coming down at the time of the Dutch summit at around 8 pm. Around 17 people were reported in the summit party.

On descent, a big piece of ice fell below the summit, taking a large part of the fixed lines with it. About 12 people, including Wilco, Gerard, Marco and Korean climbers got stuck either above the traverse or above the Bottleneck.

Rescue efforts

Cas and Pemba Sherpa downclimbed to C4 without fixed ropes, where Mark Sheen was holding for a summit bid.

K2 BC could see 5 people climbing down the Bottleneck and 2 above. Wilco and Marco were located in a bivouac above the serac at 8300 meters above the Bottleneck, which they left at around 11 am local time. The group of people descending the Bottleneck came to a halt, reportedly due to an injury suffered by one of the climbers.

Two HAP's were sent up to assist from camp 4. Dutch Norit Base Camp manager Roeland hurried to the Korean expedition tent to organize a joint rescue effort. A group of at least six climbers were supposed to climb from there towards the Bottleneck with rope.

Cas - who descended without fixed ropes with Pemba earlier - intended to move back up from C4 with Mark Sheen and two Americans, but the climbers were forced to descend.


On August 2nd, Marco Confortola was located in camp 4.

A satphone call made on August 1st from the peak by Wilco was tracked via a GPS position acquired from Thuraya. The position put Wilco's call to between camp 4 and camp 3 on the mountain. Later, a climber in an orange suit was also spotted moving slowly between C4 and C3 on the Cesen route.

Early morning Agust 3d (local time), Wilco Van Rooijen was caught up by the descending Cas and Pemba Sherpa and brought to camp 3.


Unlocated at this point are Irish Gerard, French Hugues, Norwegian Rolf Bae, several un-named Koreans along with a number of high altitude porters and Sherpas. A group of unknown climbers were reported still stuck in the bottleneck as last as yesterday.

The number of currently unaccounted for climbers from the August 1 summit push ranges between 8-10. Surviving climbers seem to be descending at this point, with the bulk of other mountaineers located in BC, where helicopter sweeps and other efforts are being coordinated.

The missing mountaineers are very seasoned, many are Everest summiteers and some were on their second, even third attempt on the mountaineers' mountain.

Links to K2 teams in Pakistan:

Wilco van Rooijen's Norit K2 expedition
Serbian Vojvodinean expedition
Gerard McDonnell's dispatches
Marco Confortola's updates
Singapore expedition
Cecilie Skog's updates
Nick Rice's dispatches
Mike Farris expedition's website
Hugues d'Aubarede

#Mountaineering #Mountaineering

Dutch Wilco Van Rooijen.

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