An elite group of climbers saved a French mountaineer in a daring high-altitude rescue mission on Pakistan's Nanga Parbat, one of the highest mountains in the world, as officials called off the search for a second missing alpinist today.
The group of Polish climbers with support from the Pakistani military launched the effort Saturday afternoon to rescue stranded French mountaineer Elisabeth Revol, but were unable to reach Polish national Tomek Mackiewicz on Nanga Parbat, nicknamed "killer mountain".
"The rescue for Tomasz is unfortunately not possible - because of the weather and altitude it would put the life of rescuers in extreme danger," wrote Ludovic Giambiasi, a friend of Revol, in a series of updates on Facebook.
"It's a terrible and painful decision." The rescue mission involved four mountaineers who were flown by the Pakistani military from the base camp of K2: the world's second-highest peak to reach the stranded climbers.
"The K2 climbers who stopped their historic effort for a winter K2 summit will descend with Elisabeth Revol - one life saved," said Karar Haideri, spokesman for the Alpine Club of Pakistan. The team is in the process of being evacuated by helicopter after a five and a half hour descent down the mountain to Nanga Parbat's camp one early today, where they are set to airlifted to a hospital in nearby Skardu.
Pakistani climber Karim Shah, who was in contact with the expedition, said the rescue effort was unmatched in the history of mountaineering, with the team ascending 1,200 metres in complete darkness along a treacherous route without a fixed rope.
"No one did such a climb before," Shah said. "Most people it takes two or three days and they did it in eight hours in the darkness." The rescue mission was launched after the missing alpinists were located on Friday when fellow mountaineers using binoculars spotted Revol attempting to climb down while Mackiewicz appeared to be crawling due to frostbite.
Nanga Parbat, in northern Pakistan, is the world's ninth-highest mountain at 8,125 metres (26,660 feet). It earned the nickname "killer mountain" after more than 30 climbers died trying to conquer it before the first successful summit in 1953.
In July last year, a Spaniard and an Argentinian were presumed dead after they went missing while trying to summit Nanga Parbat.
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