A British climber and his Italian counterpart have gone missing while trying to find a new route up Pakistan’s infamous ‘killer mountain’ amid bad weather.
Tom Ballard, 30, the son of mountaineer Alison Hargreaves who died on K2 in 1995, and 42-year-old Daniele Nardi last made contact with their loved ones on Sunday.
At the time they were around 20,000ft up Nanga Parbat mountain and nothing has been heard from them since.
Pakistani mountaineer Ali Sadpara, who previously conquered the same peak in winter, said he is prepared to mount a search operation, but is being delayed amid tensions with India.
Tom Ballard, 30 (left), and 42-year-old Daniele Nardi (right) have been missing for the last three days while attempting to climb Pakistan’s ‘killer mountain’ (pictured during the climb)
Ballard’s mother was famous climber Alison Hargreaves (pictured with him as a child) who died while descending the world’s second-highest mountain K2 in 1995
Airspace around the mountain was temporarily closed on Wednesday amid tit-for-tat attacks between the Pakistani and Indian air forces.
Ballard and Nardi last made contact with loved ones on Sunday and nothing has been heard from them since
Nardi last made contact with his wife on Sunday to report that he and Ballard were holed up along Mummery Rib on the Diamir side of the mountain, Planet Mountain reports
But they have not made contact with their ground team in three days, and concern for their welfare is mounting as bad weather closes in.
Ballard is well-known in mountaineering circles, not least because his mother was the first woman to solo-climb Everest without oxygen in 1995.
The feat was part of her attempt to climb the world’s three highest mountains unaided in the same year, but in August she was killed descending from the summit of K2, the world’s second-highest peak.
Hargreaves was blown off a ridge by 260mph winds amid an unexpected hurricane and her body has never been found. Ballard was aged six at the time.
Despite this, he followed in his mother’s footsteps and become the first person to climb the great north faces of the Alps solo in winter and in the same season.
Hargreaves had previously climbed all the faces in a single season, though not all of them in winter.
Ballard (pictured during the climb) is not an experienced altitude climber, but made a name for himself by becoming the first person to climb the great north faces of the Alps in a single season and in winter
Nardi is a more experienced altitude climber having made several attempts to climb Nanga Parbat during winter, each of them unsuccessful
However, Ballard has limited experience of altitude climbing, raising fears over his disappearance.
By contrast, Nardi is an experienced altitude climber and has attempted to climb Nanga Parbat during winter on several occasions, none of them successful.
Nanga Parbat became known as the ‘killer mountain’ after a series of attempts to climb it during the 1930s ended in the deaths of dozens of climbers.
The most infamous accident came in 1937 when seven Germans and nine Sherpas were killed by an avalanche.
Three years earlier a separate expedition claimed the lives of four German climbers and six Sherpas, who died of a combination of altitude sickness, exposure to a severe storm, and sheer exhaustion.
Sherpa Ang Tsering made it out alive after battling through the blizzard for seven days, and said that ‘for sheer protracted agony, [this] has no parallel in climbing.’
Pakistani climbers have agreed to mount a search operation for Ballard and Nardi but have been delayed after airspace around the mountain was shut due to clashes with India (pictured, an Indian air force jet shot down over Kashmir)
Nanga Parbat is one of 14 mountain in the world to measure more than 8,000m (26,000ft in height), known as the eight-thousanders.
It is the world’s ninth highest peak and the second-highest in the Himalayas after Everest, and is notoriously difficult to climb.
Attempts to summit the mountain began in 1895 when an expedition led by Albert F Mummery tried to climb it along the difficult Diamir face.
The ridge that Ballard and Nardi were climbing when they disappeared is named after the English mountaineer, who died during his attempt.