Islamabad: A Pakistani official said rescuers were set to airlift two European mountain climbers stuck on a Himalayan peak but rough weather was hampering their efforts.
Karrar Haidri, a top official of the Pakistan Alpine Federation, said if the weather allowed, four volunteers from a Polish expedition would be airlifted to the base camp of Pakistan’s Nanga Parbat mountain.
He said the volunteers would then climb to 7,000 metres above sea level to rescue Tomasz Mackiewicz of Poland and Elisabeth Revol of France. Mackiewicz reportedly is suffering from snow blindness and altitude sickness.
Haidri said the weather was bad, with the temperature at minus 60 degrees Celsius at the height where the climbers were stuck.
The 8,126-metre Nanga Parbat is ninth-highest in the world.
Mackiewicz and Revol got stuck at the 7,400-metre mark, from where they used a satellite phone to call for help, spokesman for the Alpine Club of Pakistan Karrar Haidri told Reuters.
Masha Gordon, who has coordinated a crowdfunding campaign to fund the rescue operation, said Revol managed to bring Mackiewicz down to 7,280 metres and set him up in a tent to spend the night.
“Eli is in the process of descending down and has last communicated from 6,671m,” Gordon said. “Though she has no tent, she is clearly lucid and is making progress on a descent to help get the rescue effort under way.” Janusz Majer, who helped prepare the Polish expedition team currently scaling K2, said that messages sent by Revol said Mackiewicz was suffering from snow blindness and frostbite.
“He hid himself in a crevasse to seek protection from wind.
Tomasz in the past has spent a couple of nights above 7,000 metres, but with all the needed equipment,” Majer said.
The crowdfunding campaign has raised around €62,500 ($75,000) by Friday evening, exceeding its target of €60,000 within several hours. The Polish government said it would provide financial guarantees and support for the rescue operation.
Mackiewicz has made six previous attempts to scale Nanga Parbat in winter, where perceived temperatures can reach minus 60 degrees Celsius. The first successful winter ascent of the mountain was made as recently as February 2016.
Pakistan rivals Nepal for the number of peaks over 7,000 metres.
In June a Spanish man and an Argentinian perished in an avalanche while trying to scale Nanga Parbat.