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Tuesday, July 23, 2024  
17 Muharram 1446  

Search called off for missing Japanese mountaineer in Pakistan’s Skardu

Search operation will resume in mid-August when weather conditions improve
A combination photo of Japanese mountaineers Atsushi Taguchi (L) and Ryuseki Hiraoka. Photo via author
A combination photo of Japanese mountaineers Atsushi Taguchi (L) and Ryuseki Hiraoka. Photo via author

The search operation for a missing Japanese mountaineer scaling the Spantik peak in Gilgit Baltistan’s Skardu was called off on Tuesday, an official said.

“The search team has returned to Skardu after the initial search efforts,” Wali Ullah Falahi, the Shigar deputy commissioner, told Aaj News.

Ryuseki Hiraoka and Atsushi Taguchi were attempting to summit the 7,027-metre (23,054-foot) Spantik mountain in the Karakoram range before they went missing on June 12.

Hiraoka body was found 300 metres (984 feet) below Camp 3 on June 15, set at around 6,200 metres (20,341 feet) from where climbers prepare for the final summit.

“The search operation will be conducted again in August when weather conditions improve,” said.

The body of one mountaineer was safely transported to a secure location.

Pakistan’s Army and local rescuers took part in the operation. According to the deputy commissioner, the region’s government was in contact with the embassy, affected family, and Adventure Tours Pakistan to retrieve the body.

“As far as the second missing Japanese climber is concerned, we have not found any traces of him. There is a chance that the body might have gone into the crevices or under an avalanche. We will do our best in the operation,” Falahi said.

He described it as a daunting task.

The pair had reached base camp on June 3 and were attempting the climb without the help of porters.

They were last seen on June 10 and the alarm was raised the following day by fellow climbers who had expected to cross paths with them.

A military helicopter spotted the climbers on June 13, but the search was suspended due to due to poor weather conditions.

The biggest difficulty in the operation was location as it was a “hanging site”, one of the rescuers said and added that it was easy to ascend the location but difficult to descend.

He was accompanied by Naik Karim and Imtiaz Sadpara, the other two rescuers.

Ashraf Sadpara added that they faced difficulties despite having ropes. According to him, the avalanche had filled the crevices two days after the accident. It made it difficult for the team to search the body.

“There are high chances that the body might be in the crevices,” he said.

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“We should again try in mid-August as my two Chinese friends were climbing the broad peak in 2017 and a similar situation occurred. We started the rescue, but we could not find it. Later, we conducted the search in mid-August and all the bodies had come out of the crevices. The area right now is dangerous as ice, stones, and avalanches fall at any time, “ Ashraf said.

Spantik, also known as the Golden Peak, is described as a “relatively accessible and straightforward peak” on the website of a tourist company, Adventure Tours.

The country is home to five of the world’s 14 mountains higher than 8,000 metres – including K2, the world’s second highest.

In 2013, more than 8,900 foreigners visited the remote Gilgit-Baltistan region, according to government figures, where most of the Karakoram range is located, with the summer climbing season running from early June to late August.

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Gilgit Baltistan