While trying to make the second winter ascent of K2, the three climbers Ali Sadpara, John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr went missing last February. Now the bodies have been found. What is certain is that the three died in the descent. Were you on the summit before? And what was their undoing?

When the team of three did not return to the high camp on the afternoon of February 5, the worst had to be expected. The weather window began to close, the winds increased and the temperatures dropped below minus 50 degrees at the K2 summit. In the following days there were no signs of life from Ali Sadpara (Pakistan), John Snorri (Iceland) and Juan Pablo Mohr (Chile). Extensive search work was started, even a fighter jet from the Pakistani army circled K2 - but the three had disappeared without a trace.

They were certainly no longer alive, shortly afterwards they were officially declared dead. Perhaps they had been torn into the abyss by an avalanche or even blown away from the summit, so the hypotheses. Experts agreed that the bodies might never be found. That they would now be found during the summer ascent, in the middle of the normal route - that was not to be expected.

In the middle of the route

Around noon on July 26th, the Ukrainian guide Valentyn Sypavin reached Camp 4 and looked at the so-called "Bottleneck", the notorious bottleneck that mountaineers have to cross below the summit. He immediately noticed two unusual black dots, he writes in a detailed report on explorersweb.com. He would have set out with a hundred meters of rope to support the restraint work of the Sherpas, who were already approaching the bottleneck. Arriving on the shoulder above camp 4, he discovered a yellow scrap of cloth. “I had a feeling that the little piece of cloth sticking out of the snow could be attached to something bigger,” he writes.

Arriving above Camp 4, Valentyn Sypavin noticed a yellow scrap of cloth.

His assumption was confirmed. He only dug until he realized he had found a dead climber. It soon became clear that it was Juan Pablo Mohr. The two black dots in the bottleneck should turn out to be the corpses of Ali Sadpara and John Snorri.

Caught on a fixed rope

All three were apparently in decline at the time of their death. This is indicated, for example, by the figure eight with which Ali Sadpara was found hanging on a fixed rope. John Snorri was only attached to the rope with a carabiner, but that also makes sense - it is known that he was often released from fixed ropes in the style of the Sherpas: only hooked in with a carabiner, the rope wrapped around his hand to brake.

Sypavin describes the situation in which John Snorri's body found itself in great detail and provides a possible course of events. According to this, the fixed rope could have been fatal for the Icelander, from which he could no longer free himself due to complete exhaustion. The body hung below the last anchor in the slack rope. Sypavin suspects that the Icelander no longer had the strength to pull himself up and attach his carabiner to the next section of the fixed rope. “He should have climbed to the snow anchor. That would be about three meters up the ice slope on the front spikes without Jumar. "

According to Sypavin, the fact that Juan Pablo Mohr was significantly lower than Sadpara and Snorri could mean that he was running ahead and froze to death waiting for his two companions. He rules out the Chilean falling, neither posture nor material have shown any signs of this. As a possibly fatal circumstance, Sypavin cites the start from camp 3 at approx. 7330 meters.

Sypavin rules out the Chilean falling, neither posture nor material showed signs of this.

Normally, mountaineers start the summit advance from Camp 4 at 7850 meters. So the tent that saved us was further away on the descent. "I think that if there had been a tent in Camp 4, Juan Pablo Mohr would have had a chance of survival," writes Sypavin in his report. For him it is certain that the three died of exhaustion. “There were no falls and no secrets. The K2 is a difficult, high mountain in winter. "

For Sypavin it is certain that the three mountaineers died of exhaustion.

Did you stand on the summit?

Sajid Sadpara and Elia Saikaly were also looking for answers on the mountain this July. The Canadian mountaineer and filmmaker Saikaly accompanied the two Sadparas - father Ali and son Sajid - and Snorri with the camera last winter, he was supposed to capture the attempt to climb the winter. While Sajid drove the search for his missing father, Saikaly is also concerned with completing his film. He largely financed the expedition from his own resources, during which he now spent five days on the mountain with Sajid and announced some of it on Instagram.

“It was hard to believe what I was filming. Sajid stood on a one and a half meter wide ledge with the abyss below and shared his feelings when he met his father face to face, ”he sums up the moment they approached Ali Sadpara's corpse. Even when they got to John Snorri a little further up and were looking for his belongings, he held the camera on it.

“Sajid spent over 15 minutes reaching into John's bags and boots, hoping to find essential items. At some point he pulled out his knife and began to cut up John's clothes (...) I documented flying feathers when he triumphantly pulled out the most important element: the GoPro. What would it reveal? "

VThe media has at various times speculated that the three climbers reached the summit before they died. In particular, data from a last contact with John Snorri's cell phone were brought into the field. Allegedly there was a geolocation at the summit, but clear facts are missing until now. In this respect, the hopes were high that a camera or a GPS device of the victims would now provide clarity.

One picture

There wasn't much to be extracted from the GoPro - at least for the time being. The files on it were all damaged except for a single image. It shows the legs of a mountaineer in a yellow and black down suit, as worn by John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr. The yellow fixed rope in which the climber is attached is likely to be more decisive. This was relocated by the Nepalese during their summit advance on January 16. Nirmal Purja, the face of the Nepalese success for the first K2 winter ascent, answered the post promptly. He knew exactly where this point was, he was as mysterious as it was meaningless.

Saikaly states that the work continues. Don't jump to conclusions that the three were on the summit.

What is certain is that Ali Sadpara, John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr will stay at K2 forever. With the help of a Bolivian mountaineer, Sajid brought his father down to his shoulder and buried him according to Islamic ritual. John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr were left at the site.

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Credits: Cover picture Team Ali Sadpara, report on Explorersweb