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What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?

- Henry David Thoreau

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Himalaya

Mar 03, 2019

Rescue efforts on Nanga Parbat: Will History Repeat Itself in Search for Nardi and Ballard?

It’s been more than a week since Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard were last in touch with the outside world, from 6,300 metres on Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world.

WRITTEN BY

Billi Bierling

Since The Outdoor Journal published this story, news has since broken that confirmed the deaths of both Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard.

Daniele Nardi from Italy and Tom Ballard from the UK have now been missing for over a week. Hopes are slowly fading in the search to find the two climbers alive. With stormy winter weather incoming, plus the escalation of the conflict between India and Pakistan, it does not look promising.

“I see very little chance for the two climbers to be found alive. Heavy snowfall has significantly increased the avalanche risk, especially on the exposed Mummery Rib,” says German mountaineering journalist and blogger, Stefan Nestler. “All signs point to the fact that Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard were caught in an avalanche, and it’s rather unlikely that the pair survived given the current conditions on the mountain.”

Nanga Parbat Peak, photo by Moiz Ismaili

The Mummery Rib, which sits on the Diamir Face of the mountain, is named after the British climber Albert F. Mummery, who had launched one of the very first attempts of Nanga Parbat in 1895. However, he and two of his climbing mates disappeared after they had reached the rib, and it is believed that the three became victims of an avalanche. To this very date, the rib has never been fully climbed.

Rescue efforts led by Pakistani mountaineer Muhammad Ali Sadpara, who together with Spaniard Alex Txikon and Italian Simone Moro succeeded in the first winter ascent of Nanga Parbat, are currently on hold due to the low visibility, bad weather and lack of access. This is exacerbated by the fact that the helicopters, which are exclusively administered and flown by the Pakistani army, are being deployed at the border with India due to the recent hostilities between the two nuclear powers.

According to Sadpara’s Facebook page, a helicopter is waiting for the weather to clear to collect four climbers from K2 base camp to assist Sadpara in his rescue efforts. The K2 team is led by Alex Txikon who plans to use drones to search the area around the Mummery rib and Kinshofer route.

The situation is similar to last year’s rescue of the French mountaineer Elizabeth Revol and her Polish climbing mate, Tomek Mackiewicz, who got into trouble on their descent from the summit. This heroic rescue effort that involved the entire climbing community showed a great deal of solidarity and led to the rescue of Revol. However, Mackiewicz remained on the mountain.

Whether or not Ballard and Nardi will be as fortunate as Revol remains to be seen. Nardi is a well-known character in the Nepal Himalaya with an Everest ascent and attempts on Makalu and Cho Oyu under his belt. In 2011, he took part in scientific research to measure humidity, temperature, wind direction and solar radiation on the highest peak on earth. Tom Ballard also started climbing and mountaineering at an early age, stepping into the footsteps of his mother who was considered one of the female high altitude pioneers in the 1990s. Sadly, Alison Hargreaves never returned from her successful climb of K2 in 1995, when she got literally blown off the second highest peak in the world.

“Mountaineers, who are climbing in the North of the country, have to be aware that rescue operations are very limited in Pakistan. They may hope for help from outside, however, they must never rely on it, especially not in winter,” says Nestler. “Professional mountaineers have to accept that in an emergency they will have to rescue themselves. Successful operations, such as the rescue of Elizabeth Revol last winter, will sadly remain an exception,” Nestler concludes.

Cover photo: Nanga Parbat (Naked Mountain) is the world’s 9th highest mountain and the 2nd highest in Pakistan (after K2). Shot from Fairy Meadows, the Raikot (Rakhiot) Face on the northern side is quite imposing. Photo by Ahmed Sajjad Zaidi

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Athletes & Explorers

Oct 31, 2019

New World Record: Nirmal Purja Summits the 14 Highest Peaks in Just 6 Months

Nepali ex-soldier Nirmal Purja just smashed the record for summiting all the 8000ers in just half a year—the previous record? The same achievement took Kim Chang-ho, over seven years.

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WRITTEN BY

Himraj Soin

Nirmal Purja is a Nepali mountaineer and a former British Marine. He joined the British Army in 2003, became a Royal Marine in 2009, and only started climbing as recently as 2012—when he decided to climb Everest. In 2018, Purja was awarded the MBE, a civilian honour, by Queen of the United Kingdom.

According to his Instagram post on October 29th, Purja or “Nims”, and his team reached the summit of Shisha Pangma at 8:58 AM local time. This was his 14th peak, and his team members were Mingma David Sherpa, Galjen Sherpa and Gesman Tamang.

Previously, South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho was the record holder, completing the summits in seven years, while Polish climber Jerzy Kukuczka completed them in a little under eight years.

Purja climbed Annapurna in Nepal on April 23rd, Dhaulagiri in Nepal on May 12th, Kanchenjunga in Nepal on May 15th, Everest in Nepal on May 22nd, Lhotse in Nepal on May 22nd, Makalu in Nepal on May 24th, Nanga Parbat in Pakistan on July 3rd, Gasherbrum 1 in Pakistan on July 15th, Gasherbrum 2 in Pakistan on July 18th, K2 in Pakistan on July 24th, Broad Peak in Pakistan on July 26th, Cho Oyu in China on September 23rd, Manaslu in Nepal on September 27th, and finally Shishapangma in China on October 29th.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

United we conquer ! Here is to The A-team 🙌🏼 . .(Climbing team ) @mingma_david_sherpa , @gesmantamang , @geljen_sherpa_ @zekson_srpa ,Halung Dorchi . . . The journey of 14/7 has tested us all the way though at many levels. Together we have been through so much, we climbed not only as a team but as brothers with one sole goal to make the impossible possible pushing the human limitations to next level. Now, the BROTHERHOOD that we share between us is even STRONGER ! . . #trust #brotherhood #team . . 14/14 ✅ #14peaks7months #History . . #nimsdai #BremontProjectPossible ‬ #dedication #resilience #extremehighaltitudemountaineering #uksf #extremeoftheextreme #nolimit #silxo #ospreyeurope #antmiddleton #digi2al #adconstructiongroup #omnirisc #summitoxygen #inmarsat #thrudark #gurkhas #sherpas #elitehimalayanadventures #alwaysalittlehigher

A post shared by Nirmal Purja MBE – Nimsdai (@nimsdai) on

Apparently, he could’ve made better time had it not been for a few hiccups along the way—from being help up for permissions to climb in Tibet, to stretching out his Lhotse, Everest, and Makalu climbs to take a break. During his descent from Annapurna, Purja and his team rescued Malaysian climber Wui Kin Chin, who was not doing well at 7500m. On their descent of Kanchenjunga, Purja and his team gave up their oxygen to three climbers who had run out of their supply. While climbing Everest, he had to wait in line for hours, and ended up taking the viral photograph of the “traffic jam” on Everest.

Today, Nims gave a shout out to his teammates on Instagram, “United we conquer! Here is to The A-team! The journey of 14/7 has tested us all the way though at many levels. Together we have been through so much, we climbed not only as a team but as brothers with one sole goal to make the impossible possible pushing the human limitations to the next level. Now, the BROTHERHOOD that we share between us is even STRONGER!”

Apart from climbing all 14 of the world’s 8000m peaks in under 7 months, and partly due to this enormous feat, he also holds a few other records—most 8000m mountains in the spring season (climbing six), most 8000m mountains in the summer season (climbing five), fastest summit of the three highest mountains in the world—Everest, K2, and Kanchenjunga, fastest summit of the five highest mountains in the world—Everest, K2, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse and Makalu, fastest lower 8000ers, Gasherbrum 1, 2, and Broad Peak, and fastest higher 8000ers, consecutive summits of Everest, Lhotse and Makalu in 48 hours (beats his own previous record of five days).

The backbone of the climbing industry in Nepal, sherpas are often overlooked and don’t get nearly as much international recognition as their comrades from the west. In Purja’s case, as his website mentions, the reason you may not have heard of him before is that he spent the last 16 years serving in the UK military. For more information on Purja, head over to projectimpossible.co.uk.

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