Mountain Expedition Organizer: Bodies Will Be Left on K2KATHY GANNON , Associated Press
Aug. 18, 1995 2:20 PM ET
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) _ She thrived on excitement, often quoting to her husband a Tibetan saying: ``It is better to have lived one day as a tiger than a thousand years as a sheep.''
But Scottish climber Alison Hargreaves' quest for adventure ended this week when an avalanche buried her and at least four others near the summit of K2, the world's second-highest peak.
On Friday, the organizer of the lost expedition, Nazir Sabir, said the bodies of the 33-year-old Hargreaves and her fellow mountaineers will be left where they died.
``We just can't bring them down because it is very treacherous,'' Sabir said in a telephone interview from the northern mountain town of Skardu. ``It is impossible.''
Rescuers buried the body of Canadian climber Jeff Lakes, another of those missing, in snow about 21,780 feet up K2 in the Karakorum Mountains.
Lakes apparently died of altitude sickness at Camp 2, 21,660 feet up the mountain, Sabir said. He said Lakes returned there alone after getting sick at Camp 4, which at 26,400 feet is the final camp before the summit.
It remained unclear Friday exactly how many climbers were caught in Sunday's avalanche.
Sabir said seven climbers _ Hargreaves of Spean Bridge, Scotland; Lake of Calgary, Alberta; Rob Slater of Boulder, Colo.; Bruce Grant of New Zealand and three unidentified Spaniards _ left the base camp at K2 on Aug. 11 to attempt the summit.
All but Lakes remain missing, he said. U.S. Embassy officials in Islamabad confirmed five were missing, including Slater.
A body believed to be that of Hargreaves has been spotted near where the avalanche struck, Sabir said.
``They have seen something very high up on the south face of K2 and it looks very much like Alison's body ... but we can't be sure,'' he said.
Sabir said details of the accident are still sketchy.
In May, Hargreaves reached the top of the 29,026-foot Mount Everest alone, without oxygen tanks. She wanted to be the first woman to climb the world's three highest peaks _ Everest, K2 and India's Kanchenjunga.
Sabir said the climbers were caught in an avalanche on K2 somewhere above the 26,400-foot mark of the 28,251-foot peak. Sabir, who has climbed the west face of K2, said the final 1,800 feet of the ascent are brutal.
``You have to push through chest-high snow, climb over a (990-foot) ridge,'' he said. The final hurdle before the summit is an ice barrier known as ``death throat.''
In a British Broadcasting Corp. interview shortly before she left, Hargreaves said K2 is known as ``killer mountain'' because of its bad storms.
``If she is dead, she has at least died where she wanted to be,'' Hargreaves' husband, Tom Ballard, said Thursday. Their children, 4-year-old Kate and 6-year-old Tom, spent that day playing on the slopes of Ben Nevis mountain in Scotland, where their mother trained.
``This is a day I hoped would never happen,'' he said. ``But you cannot perform at the cutting edge of a dangerous sport and think nothing is going to happen.''
He added: ``She was on her way down after becoming the first woman to climb the two highest peaks on Earth without oxygen and in pure style.''
K2 is so named because it was the second highest peak measured in an 1856 survey of the Karakorum Range. It was first scaled by an Italian team in 1954.