Two Experienced Alpinists Feared Dead on the 'Killer Mountain'

Dream Wanderlust | July 3 , 2017

Alberto Zerain Berasategi (55) and Mariano Galván (37) from Spain and Argentina respectively, went missing on Nanga Parbat, the world’s ninth highest peak. They were last heard from on Saturday June 24th, 2017. The duo was attempting the difficult Mazeno Ridge in alpine style.

They had climbed Manaslu and Dhaulagiri together this year without supplementary oxygen or Sherpa support. The two are amongst the strongest climbers currently active in Himalayas. This expedition was organised by Summit Karakoram. Mariano Galván climbed several eight-thousanders including Everest, Lhotse, Broad Peak and Dhaulagiri without supplementary oxygen or Sherpa help. Alberto summited Annapurna this year without supplementary oxygen or Sherpa help.

Alberto Zerain, Mariano Galván

In the Pics: Alberto Zerain (Left) and Mariano Galván (Right) | Courtesy: 2x14x8000.com

The timeline of their Nanga Parbat expedition (2017):  

15th June:
Alberto Zerain and Mariano Galvan reached Nanga Parbat Diamir BC (4200m). They intended to access the Mazeno Ridge from Diamir BC. This is one of the hardest routes which has been successfully completed only once in history. British alpinists Sandy Allan and Rick Allen summited Nanga Parbat via the Mazeno Ridge in July, 2012.

17th June:
They had carried loads to the base of Mazeno Ridge at around 4500m. The round-trip took around 10hrs.

19th June:
They started for the summit push. The weather was good that day. They reached an altitude of 5600m and stayed there that night.

20th June:
From next day the weather changed drastically

21st June:
They were unable to leave their tent due to bad weather. Alberto made a phone call to 'Home Team' and stated the weather conditions.

23rd June: 
They were around 6000m. Alberto made a phone call home.

24th June: 
At around 9.14 am (Pakistan time) the tracker showed their progress for a while. The tracker showed a height of 6270m. However, about an hour later at 10.14 am (Pakistan time) the tracker stopped at 6112m. The tracker was in the same location till it went silent at 1:10am (next day). The device may have been automatically configured to shut down 24hrs after power on. 

28th June: 
The Pakistani rescue helicopter departed for the Mazeno Ridge at around 09.00 am (Pakistan time) on a search-and-rescue mission. .It searched for more than three hours and had to return due to bad weather.

29th – 30th June:
No search and rescue could be carried out due to bad weather.  

1st July: 
Heli search and rescue resumed but the party found no sign of the missing climbers. The position of the tracker showed evidence of an avalanche.

mazeno ridge nanga parbat

In the Pics: Mazeno Ridge Nanga Parbat | Courtesy: himalayamasala.com

Here is the official press release as posted on 2x14x8000.com on 1st July:

"The reconnaissance was carried out in two phases, with a stop in between, at 06:00 a.m. (09:00 p.m., Pakistani time) to refuel and continue the search. The helicopter crossed the Ridge several times, up to an altitude of 7,400m, focusing on the penultimate and last known position of Alberto and Mariano without success. Last position as indicated by the Racetracker of Alberto Zerain, is where they found a detached plaque of snow which had avalanched, a situation that, sadly rules out the possibility of survivors."

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