Bodies of 2 Missing Climbers Spotted on Pakistan Mountain, Envoy Says
ROME — Italy’s ambassador to Pakistan on Saturday announced the deaths of two climbers, one British and one Italian, who had been missing for weeks while climbing Nanga Parbat in Pakistan, the world’s ninth-highest mountain.
The ambassador, Stefano Pontecorvo, wrote on Twitter that “the silhouettes” of the climbers, Tom Ballard, 30, of Britain and Daniele Nardi, 42, of Italy had been spotted at about 5,900 meters (about 19,000 feet) on the mountain. “R.I.P.,” Mr. Pontecorvo said, and expressed “great sadness” at the discovery.
Mr. Pontecorvo said that the team of another European climber, Alex Txikon, had partly flown over the mountain and partly climbed it, and had recognized the two bodies by telescope.
Pakistani Army helicopters had searched the mountain for days, sometimes obstructed by bad winter weather and delayed when a military confrontation flared between India and Pakistan and the Pakistani airspace was closed.
The men began climbing last month, and soon after they reached a little over 20,000 feet in late February, their teams and family lost contact with them.
Mr. Nardi’s team said that the first Pakistani helicopter that flew over the men’s last-known location four days later could not see any traces of the two climbers. The search efforts continued until Saturday, when the reconnaissance mission ended.
It was not immediately clear if officials planned an attempt to retrieve the bodies.
Nanga Parbat, also known among climbers as the “killer mountain,” was an extremely perilous mission. But both climbers were experienced. The British news media called Mr. Ballard the “King of the Alps.”
Mr. Ballard and Mr. Nardi decided to scale the most direct route to the summit of Nanga Parbat — one that had never been completed. In a press statement announcing their mission, Mr. Ballard’s sponsor, the British outdoor clothing brand Montane, said that “if successful, Tom will be one of the few mountaineers in the world to summit a +8000m peak in winter.”
Mr. Ballard’s mother was Alison Hargreaves, the first woman to scale Mount Everest alone. She died in 1995 at age 33 on K2 in Pakistan, when a snowstorm hit her and her team as they were descending from the summit.
Mr. Nardi, who was from a town near Rome, had attempted to climb Nanga Parbat in the winter four times without success. He called himself the “first alpinist to be born under the Po river,” in northern Italy, and “to have reached the summit of the Everest and the K2.”
His friends described him as scrupulous to the tiniest detail.
Mr. Nardi’s relatives, who have expressed their pain on social media, thanked the search-and-rescue team, the Italian and Pakistani authorities and anyone who had collaborated on the search for their tireless efforts in the past weeks.
In a Facebook post, they repeated Mr. Nardi’s words: “I’d like to be remembered as a man who tried to do something incredible, impossible, but didn’t give up and if I won’t return I’d like to give a message to my son: Don’t stop, don’t give up, do your thing because the world needs better people to make peace a reality and not just an idea.”