Polish mountaineer Pawel Kopec dies on Pakistan’s ‘killer mountain’
Polish mountaineer Pawel Tomasz Kopec has died after summiting the world’s ninth-highest peak, officials said Tuesday, becoming the first casualty reported in Pakistan’s climbing season.
The Alpine Club of Pakistan said Pawel Tomasz Kopec died Monday from “acute altitude sickness” while descending from the 8,125-metre (26,656-foot) Nanga Parbat, considered one of the world’s most perilous climbs with a reported one-in-five fatality rate.
Five of the globe’s 14 mountains above 8,000 metres are in Pakistan — including Himalayan peak Nanga Parbat, which earned the nickname “killer mountain” after more than 30 people died trying to climb it before the first successful summit in 1953.
Pawel Kopec’s body remains at an altitude of 7,400 metres, said Karrar Haidari, the club’s secretary.
“It’s not possible to lift the body from the higher camps,” he told AFP.
“The helicopters cannot pick [up] from there.”
He said “it now depends on his family and friends”, who may decide to send a private expedition to retrieve his body.
Pawel Kopec, 38, was a member of the Swietokrzyski mountaineering club, which said Nanga Parbat was the climber’s second summit above 8,000 metres.
“Unfortunately, he paid the ultimate price for this achievement.”
A friend identifying himself only as Mateusz posted a tribute to Kopec’s Facebook page.
“The mountains have always driven Pawel, his life has been dedicated to them and today the mountains have finally taken this life for themselves,” he wrote.
“We trust that the spark that fuelled him will remain an inspiration for all of us to persistently pursue our dreams.”
Pakistani mountaineer Asif Bhatti, along with his climbing partner Fazal Ali, also encountered problems scaling Nanga Parbat at the weekend.
Bhatti became snowblind and the pair were stranded at one of the peak’s higher camps, but resumed their descent on Tuesday, according to Karakorum Expeditions, who are assisting with his rescue.
The summer climbing season started in early June and lasts until late August.