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K2: Eleven Presumed Dead

Climbers Gerard McDonnell, Jelle Staleman and Wilco van Rooijen on K2 (8611m), Karakoram, Pakistan. McDonnell is among those missing and feared dead after a serac fall high on the mountain on August 1, 2008. [Photo]

Eleven climbers are missing after disaster struck high on the world’s second tallest peak, K2 (8611m). On August 1, 2008, an ice avalanche on the upper mountain tore through a narrow gully known as the Bottleneck, ripping away fixed ropes and making it impossible for climbers to traverse back to Camp 4 on the Abruzzi Route (read the August 1, 2008 NewsWire). Alpinist has not received official confirmation of the trapped climbers’ outcome; CNN and other media sources are presuming dead the three South Koreans, two Nepalis, two Pakistanis, Serbian, Irishman, Norwegian and Frenchman.

At around 8 p.m. a summit party of approximately seventeen climbers from France, Italy, Korean, Nepal, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, and Serbia were beginning their descent to K2’s Camp 4. In the aftermath of the avalanche, a few climbers–Wilco van Rooijen, Cas van de Gevel and Nepali Pemba Sherpa–were able to climb through the fallen ice without the assistance of fixed lines. Approximately twelve more were believed stranded above the Bottleneck. Since then Van Rooijen, van de Gevel and Pemba Sherpa descended to the safety of Base Camp and were flown to a military hospital in Skardu on Saturday, August 2. Despite severe frostbite, Italian climber Marco Confortola made it to Camp 4 and is in stable condition.

According to reports from the region, “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.” will post more information as events on K2 unfold.

Sources: David Falt,,,,