Pakistan’s ‘Killer Mountain’ Claimed the Life of One Climber. But His Partner Was Saved
Despite hostile conditions and a dead homing beacon, one of the two climbers who attempted to scale Pakistan’s infamous “Killer Mountain” managed to make it out alive.
Elisabeth Revol of France was rescued Sunday night by an “elite” Polish climbing team who was nearby the mountain, formally named Nanga Parbat, on K2 — the second-tallest peak in the world — according to the BBC. The rescue mission was made possible by Pakistan’s military, who sent a helicopter to ferry the men across.
Unfortunately, the climbers were unable to save Revol’s partner, Tomasz “Tomek” Mackiewicz, also from Poland, who was higher up the slope suffering from frostbite and snow blindness. Nanga Parbat’s freezing temperatures and fierce winds made it impossible for rescuers to proceed forward.
“The rescue for Tomasz is unfortunately not possible — because of the weather and altitude it would put the life of rescuers in extreme danger,” the Polish climbing group wrote on its Facebook page. “It’s a terrible and painful decision. We are in deep [sadness]. All our thoughts go out to Tomek's family and friends. We are crying.”
Not long after, the government of Pakistan officially declared Mackiewicz dead, according to the Associated Press.
Despite the tragedy, the recovery of Revol was still an astonishing accomplishment. At one point days earlier, she and Mackiewicz were more than 24,000 feet up Nanga Parbat, the ninth-highest mountain in the world. They were seeking to become just the second team to ever reach its peak during the wintertime. But Mackiewicz soon succumbed to his ailments and was left immobile, forcing Revol to hike back down alone in search of a signal to call for help. It resulted in a GoFundMe page created by her friend, Masha Gordan, who called for awareness and money for the rescue effort.
“A well-known French climber Elisabeth Revol and a Polish climber Tomek Mackiewicz on 25/01/2018 made a daring winter ascent of Nanga Parbat in Pakistan,” the page read. “Unfortunately, on the way Tomek became snow-blind and suffered frostbite. They require a rescue to save Tomek's life who is in a critical condition. The upfront rescue cost is estimated at USD50,000. Please help relatives of the two to raise money required. Every penny and cent helps.”
Even with the increasing awareness, the Pakistani government initially refused to send a helicopter for the rescue effort until the money for the operation was paid upfront, according to the New York Times. At last, the mission was approved, but time was running out — frostbite had set in on her toes and she was “very thirsty and hungry,” according to a text she sent from her satellite phone posted on the GoFundMe. Then, her phone died.
At last, the Polish climbers found her despite not having her precise location. She was transported to Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad, where a doctor said that her injuries were not life-threatening and that she was in stable condition, according to the AP.
The GoFundMe page has since been converted to a charity fund for Mackiewicz’s wife and three kids. More than 130,000 Euros had been raised as of Monday afternoon.