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with Stefan Nestler

Risky search on Nanga Parbat

The accident site (© Alex Gavan)

Looked at soberly, actually there can not be any doubt: The Spaniard Alberto Zerain and the Argentinean Mariano Galvan have been killed two weeks ago in an avalanche accident on the Mazeno Ridge on Nanga Parbat. Photos taken by the Romanian climber Alex Gavan from a rescue helicopter show the track of the two climbers ending exactly at the fracture line of an avalanche. The last position indicated by the climbers’ GPS tracker is a spot far below, in the supposed fall line. (Look also at the video below) Nonetheless a Pakistani team of eight is currently again searching for the missing climbers at the place where the avalanche swept down. “We moved to the south side of the ridge. We closely looked at the face,” the leader of the search team said today. “We can see the traverse Mariano made. We can also see the ridge from which a chunk of ice fell that potentially caused the accident by sweeping the climbers off the (ridge) into the highly broken glacier. Three of us will try (to ascend) from South West Ridge and three from south east.”

Shaman dreamed of Galvan in a cave

Galvans family and friends have joined forces to fund the new search costing $ 38,000. Spanish media reported that Galvan’s mother had previously consulted a shaman. He said he dreamed that Mariano was trapped in a cave. According to the reports, a cuban clairvoyant also said he visualized Galvan alive in a cave. Even if the Argentinean really survived the avalanche this way, he would have in the meantime almost certainly suffocated or frozen to death, more than two weeks after the accident. Avalanche rescuers know that the rescue of trapped people is a race against time. Already after two hours, according to the statistics, only about seven percent of the avalanche victims are still alive – and only if their air pocket has a connection to the outside.

Gavan: “Irresponsible”

Against this background, the search in the area below the Mazeno Ridge which is exposed to avalanches and full of crevasses appears to be not only useless, but also negligent. Alex Gavan, who had coordinated the rescue efforts immediately after Zerain and Galvan got missing and had flown in one of the rescue helicopters, put in a nutshell: The new search was “irresponsible” because it “only endangers more people’s lives”, he said. There had been a similar discussion on Mount Everest last spring, when Sherpas had recovered the body of a dead Indian climber in a highly risky action from an altitude of 8,400 meters. Not only the climber’s family but also the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu had exerted pressure on the Nepalese expedition operator.


12. July 2017 | 15:03