RunOut #19: Nanga Parbat and Modern Remote Mountain SAR

In the spring season many 8,000-meter peaks are increasingly crowded with guides who are all but carrying their clientele of C-level executives and trustfunding thrillseekers to the summit.

But in winter, when temps plunge to -60 below and the winds tear at a maddening clip, the 8000-meter peaks finally reveal themselves to be the truly savage and wild places that they are.

This inhospitable desolation calls like a siren to the “young and angry,” as the great Polish alpinist Krzysztof Wielicki put it in his seminal “Winter Manifesto,” which summoned the next generation of alpine climbers to complete the 8000m peaks in winter.

Thus far only one 8000-meter mountain remains unclimbed in winter. That would be K2, arguably the toughest one of all.

And for the second consecutive year, an incident on Nanga Parbat has required climbers on K2 to sacrifice their own shot at claiming this last great prize in order to come to the aid of their fellow mountaineers.

This is Andrew Bisharat. You’re listening to The Run Out podcast. And I’m here with Chris Kalous.

In this episode, we try to unpack some of the drama that unfolded on Nanga Parbat this year, in which the lives of two incredible mountaineers were lost. Also for the second year in row, we saw the climbing world attempt to navigate the bureaucracies of Pakistan, using social media and crowdfunding in real time in order to help aid the search mission as it was assembled.

It’s another year, and yet it’s the same story we’ve seen again and again.

Unfortunately, it’s a story that likely won’t be going away anytime soon.

2 comments on RunOut #19: Nanga Parbat and Modern Remote Mountain SAR

  1. Hey! I really enjoyed the episode! I know Andrew said he didn’t know of a successful rescue on a high peak. There’s probably many, but one that comes to mind was in August of 2005 on, coincidentally, Nanga Parbat of Tomaz Humar from 6,000+ m on the Rupal Face. He radioed that he was in distress: due to avalanche danger and was rescued after several days by helicopter. I think it was one of the highest rescues done. I happened to be in a nearby basecamo at the time and saw it all go down. He later died in Nepal after a similar call for help was not successful in time.

    1. Chris Kalous says:

      Hey Vince. In the moment I was thinking about that, but I (Kalous) couldn’t remember the details of which was which in terms of the successful vs the unsuccessful one so kept my mouth shut before I got something wrong. I remember just how miraculous it was that the helicopter was able to pull it off. And even though it was an amazing piece of flying and pushed the equipment to its limits, after that, we in the public sort of thought< "Ok, so that can be done now" like it should be expected that a pilot perform at those levels and with that much risk.

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