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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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Himalaya

Mar 11, 2019

Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi: Bodies Found on Nanga Parbat Confirmed to be Missing Climbers

The bodies of the British and Italian climbers were found more than a week after their last contact from the ninth highest mountain in the world.

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WRITTEN BY

Sean Verity

The last time that there had been any contact with Ballard and Nardi, it was on the 24th February, from an elevation of 6,300 metres. However, despite the mountaineering community’s hopes and prayers that the climbers would reappear, there was no news since. It stayed that way until “silhouettes” were spotted on the mountain on Wednesday. A complicated search had been called off, but following this sighting, it took another three days to confirm that those silhouettes are the bodies of Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi.

A week ago, The Outdoor Journal asked Will History Repeat Itself in Search for Nardi and Ballard? After being missing for over a week, we drew a parallel with last year’s search and rescue mission on Nanga Parbat, when French mountaineer Elizabeth Revol and her Polish climbing mate, Tomek Mackiewicz, got into trouble on the “Killer Mountain”. Revol was rescued by a team that retreated off nearby K2, but Mackiewicz, unfortunately, did not make it.  

“You will be part of the history of mountaineering FOREVER”

Stefano Pontecorvo, the Italian ambassador to Pakistan, was the first to suggest that the bodies of the men had been found on the Mummery Spur trail.


Experienced Spanish climber Alex Txikon mostly abandoned his own winter attempt on K2, to lead the search and rescue effort. Following Stefano Pontecorvo’s comments, Alex subsequently posted his own message via his Facebook page. Mentioning that “The Nanga Parbat has taken two great and brilliant climbers. They have left before their time, but without a doubt, doing what they liked best.

Daniele Nardi’s team confirmed the news via Facebook, with a long statement in both Italian and English that announced that “We’re heartbroken; we inform you that the research of Daniele and Tom has ended…”

Tragically, Tom Ballard is the son of Alison Hargreaves, the first woman to summit Everest unaided, but who also sadly passed away in that same year whilst descending K2 in 1995.

Cover photo: Pervisha Khan, Ninth Highest Mountain of the World and Second Highest in Pakistan, Nanga Parbat. The shot was taken from Fairy Meadows

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