K2 mountain drama over: 11 deaths
TT/Claudia Rodas · 3 Aug 2008, 14:35
Published: 03 Aug 2008 14:35 GMT+02:00
- Swedish climber in K2 death drama (02 Aug 08)
Swedish mountaineer Fredrik Sträng was on the mountain, and got involved in the rescue mission.
Sträng told TT that the tragedy “could have been avoided”. Sträng and his team were nearing the peak of the notoriously challenging K2, also known as Mount Godwin Austin or Mount Chogori, when he was forced to break off his expedition.
Disaster first struck on Friday evening, Swedish time, as Sträng and his team were scaling the mountain peak at an elevation of 8600 meters.
An avalanche struck another team of climbers, killing four people. As a result, another group of climbers were stranded.
Upon learning of the avalanche, Sträng's team broke off its ascent and went to help the other group to safety after one of its members was killed.
As they climbed down, another climber lost his life and Sträng almost went down with him, according to the climber’s spokesperson, Joachim von Stedingk.
Speaking to TT, von Stedingk explained that as Sträng was preparing for a second attempt to reach the summit, parts of the ice wall called Bottleneck Couloir slammed down.
“This avalanche caused a further two deaths”, he said. At least eight people were completely cut off as a result.
Sträng was personally involved in the rescue mission. Speaking to TT, Sträng described the drama as “a big tragedy”.
“I carried both the living and the dead down from the mountain. At one point I was terrified as a Pakistani Sherpa fell on my back with all his weight. I was in a panic that he would drag all of us down with him, and screamed for him to use his ice pick, but he lost hold of it and flew off a 300 meter precipice”, Sträng told TT.
Sträng seems pretty sure regarding the accident´s cause. After a long spell of bad weather, conditions suddenly improved on Friday, which spurred a large number of climbers to make their way to the top at the same time. However, the weather soon turned again.
“We felt that this wouldn’t turn out well and we retreated. The accidents could have been prevented”, Sträng told TT.
“These mountains attract more and more inexperienced and naïve people who completely rely on the resources that are there, Sherpas, oxygen gas and weather reports.”
The K2 peak is regarded as one of the world’s most challenging and dangerous mountains and is the world’s second highest peak. It is situated on the China-Pakistan border in the Karakorum mountain chain.
Fredrik Sträng is now in safety at 5100 meters altitude.
Sträng is an experienced climber who holds a record as the only Swede to have climbed seven of the Earth’s highest peaks in the world within six months.
Sträng´s current expedition is in aid of raising awareness for Sweden’s charity Help the Children.