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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Spantik Tragedy: One Japanese Climber Found, Search Continues for Second

A rescue operation on Spantik Peak found one of two missing Japanese climbers dead, with efforts ongoing to locate the other amid harsh conditions.

A rescue operation on Spantik Peak in the Shigar Valley led to the discovery of one of two missing Japanese climbers, while the search for the second climber continues. Ryuseki Hiraoka and Atsushi Taguchi, who were attempting to summit the 7,027-meter peak in Alpine style without porters, went missing earlier this week. They had last been seen at Camp 2 at an altitude of 5,300 meters on Monday.

The climbers’ disappearance was reported by another seven-member Japanese expedition team who, upon reaching Camp 2 the following day, found it empty. The team promptly returned to the base camp to alert the authorities. Despite initial ground rescue efforts, the climbers could not be located until one body was found on Saturday.

Rescue Operation

The Deputy Commissioner of Shigar, Waliullah Falahi, confirmed the recovery of one climber’s body, stating, “The nine-member rescue team recovered one climber and kept it at a safe place. Now they are searching for the other climber.” The body has yet to be identified, but it has been verified as one of the missing climbers.

The rescue operation, involving nine high-altitude climbers including four Japanese, began on Friday morning. By Friday evening, the team had reached Camp 2 and continued their search the following day, descending a 300-meter crevice where the climbers were last seen. The Pakistan Army provided crucial support by identifying the climbers’ potential location via helicopter on Thursday.

Challenging Conditions and Risks

The harsh conditions on Spantik Peak have made the rescue operation extremely challenging. Karim Shah Nizari, a local mountain guide, explained that the climbers were likely in a crevice or hit by an avalanche. “The missing Japanese climbers were attempting in Alpine style, climbing in the area on the slopes which sometimes needs fixed ropes,” he said. Fresh snowfalls have rendered the slopes unstable and hazardous, further complicating rescue efforts.

High-altitude porters successfully moved the body of one climber to a safer location, with efforts continuing to find the second climber. The DC confirmed ongoing contact with the Japanese Embassy in Islamabad and the tour operator, Adventure Tours Pakistan. The embassy is coordinating with the climbers’ families to decide whether to repatriate the body to Japan or lay it to rest in Pakistan.

Read More: Japanese Climbers Missing in Gilgit Baltistan Amid Harsh Conditions

This tragedy highlights the need for improved safety protocols and support for climbers in the region. Adventure Tours Pakistan CEO Naiknam Karim noted that Hiraoka and Taguchi had aimed to summit the peak without establishing Camp 3, which might have contributed to their predicament. This ambitious approach, while showcasing their skill and determination, also exposed them to greater risks.

The rescue operation continues, with hopes of locating the second climber amidst challenging conditions. The climbing community and authorities remain vigilant, determined to bring closure to this tragic episode on Spantik Peak.