Polish climbers Maciej Berbeka, Adam Bielecki, Tomasz Kowalski and Artur Malek made the first winter ascent of Broad Peak (8047m) on March 5, another milestone in a long line of Polish successes on 8000m peaks in winter. Before celebrations began in earnest, Berbeka and Kowalski disappeared on the descent.
Base Camp officials reported seeing a figure near a crevasse at 7900m, but said they could not make contact with the climber. A major storm made helicopter rescue impossible. Karim Hayyat and Artur Malek climbed back to Camp III to aid the search. Hayyat climbed as high as 7700m and saw no sign of the missing climbers. On March 8, expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki called off the search due to high winds, whiteout conditions and extremely cold temperatures.
Months later, Jacek Berbeka traveled to Broad Peak to search for the bodies of his brother and for Tomasz Kowalski. Berbeka found Kowalski hanging vertically around 7900m. He said in an interview with a Polish radio station he is certain that his brother’s body is located in the crevasse at 7900m. Berbeka explained that there is no way to safely access the crevasse and reach the body.