Polish climber Tomasz (Tomek) Mackiewicz (43) and Frenchwomen Elisabeth Revol (37) came to Pakistan in December 2017 to try and summit Nanga Parbat (8126m) in winter. Their plan was to take the unfinished Messner 2000 route without using supplemental oxygen. Legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner had attempted Nanga Parbat in 2000 via a new route, between the Diamir Face and the Rakhiot Face on the North-East side of Nanga Parbat, with his brother Hubert Messner, Hanspeter Eisendle and Wolfgang Wolfi Thomaseth. This route is known as Messner 2000 route and also Messner-Eisendle route.
Tomek and Elisabeth had attempted Nanga twice, 2014-15 and 2015-16, in winter, prior to this expedition via this route. This was Tomek's seventh attempt to climb Nanga in winter. In 2015-16 Tomek, Elisabeth and Arsalan Ahmed Ansari from Pakistan could reach up to 7500m. In 2014-15 Tomek and Elisabeth reached 7800m, the highest altitude reached on the Messner 2000 route.
Nanga Parbat was first summited in winter on 16th February 2018 by Italian alpinist Simone Moro, Basque climber Alex Txikon & Pakistani Muhammad Ali via Kinshofer route on the Diamir Face. If Tomek and Elisabeth were successful, they would be the first to summit by the unfinished Messner 2000 route, they would be the second summiter in winter and Elisabeth would have been the first woman to do so in winter.
On 24th January 2018, Tomek and Elisabeth Revol left for the summit from 7300m at night. They reached an altitude of 8000m by 25th January evening. The weather was clear and they waited for the wind to stop. From 25th January onwards no information had been received from the team and they were feared to be missing.
On 26th January morning, information was received that Tomek was stuck at 7400m & possibly suffering from slow blindness and altitude sickness, while Elisabeth was descending slowly. With the help of the Polish and French Embassy in Pakistan, a rescue mission was launched on 27th January evening. The rescue team of four Polish climbers, Denis Urubko, Adam Bielecki, Jarek Botor and Piotrek Tomala were from the ongoing K2 Winter expedition. They were Heli-lifted from K2 Base and dropped off at Camp-1 (4800m) of Nanga Parbat. After about eight hours of heroic climbing in the freezing (-40 degree temp) night, Denis Urubko and Adam Bielecki found Elisabeth at an altitude of around 6000m on 28th January at 2am. They brought Elisabeth back to the Base Camp on 28th January, 2:30pm from where she was flown to Islamabad via Skardu. Unfortunately the rescuers failed to reach Tomek possibly due to altitude and weather constraints and he is probably still on the mountain at around 7200m. In an interview on wspinanie.pl, Denis Urubko said, "At that time, we had to make a decision: either to help Elisabeth survive or to continue with little hope of finding Tom. We also had a very bad weather forecast for the next days. It was obvious that we had to stay with Elisabeth, who was very poor and that's why we decided to focus on her. Both Adam and I are now unable to face Tomek's rescue...Three or four days have passed since Tom was diagnosed with altitude sickness, and Elisabeth told us that he was in a very bad condition. It is very hard to bear the idea that no one can help him now."
It has also been informed by other media sources and other climbers across the world that they might have summited Nanga. Tomek's Facebook page also confirmed the Summit. Urubko also stated that, "Yes, Elisabeth confirmed it to us." Though it has not been confirmed yet, whether they succeeded or not and the sole survivor Elisabeth's words are eagarly awaited.
24 Jan - Night [Time Unknown] - The Tomek and Elisabeth started for summit from 7300m.
25 Jan - 3:59pm - They had reached approximately 8000m, the weather was clear and they waited for the wind to drop [Facebook - Daniele Nardi]
26 Jan - Early Morning - No information received.
26 Jan - 9:20am - Asghar Ali Porik, the owner of Jasmine Tours Pakistan reported that Tomek was stuck at 7400m & most likely suffering from snow blindness and altitude sickness. Elisabeth was descending slowly.
26 Jan - Around Nooon - A rescue mission was organized, by the Embassies of France and Poland. Four mountaineers from the Polish K2 expedition were standing by for the heli-rescue. The rescue operation was financed by donations to an emergency crowd funding site specifically setup for this mission. The Polish foreign ministry stood guarantee till the money reached Pakistan.
26 Jan - 4:07pm - By then Elisabeth had descended to 7280m, but Tomek's condition was reportedly bad as he was snow blind and unable to walk. [Facebook - PMN]
26 Jan - Between 4:30pm and 7:30pm - The plan decided upon was that on 27th January morning, four climbers, Adam Bielecki, Piotr Tomala, Jarek Botor and Marek Chmielarski with equipments will be choppered from K2 Base Camp to Nanga. They will start from K2 Base Camp at 8:00am and will be dropped at the Diamer face of Nanga as close as possible to the victims. There was a plan to drops some food for Elisabeth, subject to favourable weather condition.
Reportedly Elisabeth had come down as far as 6670m and she had been informed that a rescue operation was in progress.[Facebook - PMN]
26 Jan - Between 8:50pm and 10:50pm - Two teams were selected. Depending on the payload of the helicopters the teams were as follows -
Team 1: Urubko, Bielecki, Botor, Tomala
Team 2: Urubko, Bielecki, Botor, Tomala, Chmielarski
27 Jan - 10:45am - The rescue team was standing by waiting for favorable weather. If the weather did not permit the chopper flight, four local trained HAPs/climbers were kept ready at Nanga Base Camp to go up for rescue.
Elisabeth was spotted through binoculars from Nanga Base Camp and reportedly seemed fine. A French climber Ludovic Giambiasi, who was in Sat Phone contact with Elisabeth, reported on his Facebook page that Elisabeth was suffering from severe frostbite of her left foot.
27 JAN - 12:00pm - The chopper had not yet taken off due to bad weather. Asghar Ali Porik, the owner of the Jasmine Tours Pakistan, the agency for the Polish K2 winter expedition reported that they were awaiting good weather at K2 Base Camp.
27 JAN - 1:40pm - Two helicopters left Skardu for K2 Base Camp from where they ferried Team 1 to Skardu Airport.
27 JAN - 4:00pm - Both helicopters with the rescue team left for Nanga, after fuel refilling at Skardu.
Before leaving Skardu Airport, Adam Bielecki in a short reaction said -
"Well, it all depends now on pilot and we hope the pilots can drop us 6500m, so it can help Elisabeth Revol and Tomek possibly. But he is in a very high (position). So, we will see."
27 JAN - 6:15pm - The choppers dropped the climbers at Nanga Camp-1 (4800m). The plan was for Urubko and Bielecki to climb up to Elisabeth and for Botor and Tomala to wait for their return. Elisabeth was told to come down as far as possible from her last location at around 6400m.
Plan for Tomek were not finalized yet.
28 JAN - 2:00am - After around eight hours of climbing through the night in temp 40 degrees below, Urubko and Bielecki found Elisabeth at around 6000m. Urubko's first words were, "Elisabeth, nice to see you."
28 JAN - 4:27am - After about two hours of rest Urubko and Bielecki brought Elisabeth down with them.
Ludovic Giambiasi reported that unfortunately the team decided not to go for Tomek due to weather and altitude constraints as it would endanger the rescuers. The last known location of Tomek was about 7200m.
28 JAN - 12:00pm - Urubko and Bielecki reached Camp-1 (4800m) with Elisabeth.
28 JAN - 2:30pm - Urubko, Bielecki, Botor and Tomala reached Base Camp (4300m) with Elisabeth.
28 JAN - 3:00pm - The helicopter took off from Base Camp with Elisabeth and four rescuers.
28 JAN - 4:10pm - Ludovic Giambiasi reported that the rescue pilots said that the maximum height the helicopters can put climbers on a mountain is 6000m. All hopes to resume the rescue operation for Tomek, gone.
28 JAN - 5:30pm - Elisabeth brought to Islamabad from the Base Camp of Nanga via Skardu at around 5:30pm local time and was taken to the hospital. The rescue team stayed at Skardu.
The title of this news was revised at 9:55am on 31-01-2018