After an exhausting night ascent a rescue mission has found a French mountaineer on the slopes of Pakistan's treacherous "Killer Mountain", but a Polish climber who had been with her remains missing, believed dead.
Elisabeth Revol and her climbing companion, Tomasz Mackiewicz, had called for help at the weekend from about 7400m up Pakistan's second highest peak, the 8126m Nanga Parbat.
Polish media, which have followed the developments closely, reported that Revol had frostbite on her feet and could not walk.
Mackiewicz reportedly was suffering from snow blindness and altitude sickness. There were temperatures of -60C at the height where the climbers were stuck.
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A team of elite Polish climbers, who had been attempting the first winter ascent of the nearby K2 mountain, rushed to try to rescue them.
Pakistani military helicopters buzzing over Nanga Parbat had spotted Revol at about 6700m during daylight, a Pakistani official said. Climber Denis Urubko who has dual Polish citizenship, together with Polish climbers Adam Bielecki, Jaroslaw Botor and Piotrek Tomala were dropped off by the helicopters at about 4900m, from where the first two began their ascent.
"!!! Elisabeth #Revol found !!!" the Polish team said on Facebook.
Ludovic Giambiasi, Revol's partner, wrote on Facebook that two team members would descend with Revol after resting in the open for a couple of hours. They were not able to find Mackiewicz, he said, and would have to leave without him. "The rescue for Tomasz is unfortunately not possible - because of the weather and altitude it would put the life of rescuers in extreme danger," Giambiasi wrote. "It's a terrible and painful decision. ... All our thoughts go out to Tomek's family and friends. We are crying." A helicopter organised by the Polish Embassy in Islamabad would carry Revol and her rescuers to the Pakistani town of Skardu, if the weather allows, Giambiasi wrote.
Karrar Haidri, of the Pakistan Alpine Federation, said Mackiewicz was declared deceased. Pakistan rivals Nepal for the number of peaks over 7000m and is considered a climbers' paradise, but fatalities are also common. Nanga Parbat obtained its "Killer Mountain" moniker due to the high number of lives it has claimed.
- AP, Reuters, AAP