French mountaineer Elisabeth Revol has spoken about the heartache and agony of having to leave her climbing partner behind during a daring late-night rescue operation from Pakistan's "killer mountain".

Revol, 37, is recovering in hospital and spoke about how the rescuers urged her to abandon her frostbite-ridden climbing companion Tomek Mackiewicz, 43.

He bled to death in their tent, at 7000 metres.

She called it a "terrible and painful" decision.


Revol and Mackiewicz were attempting to scale the 8125 metre Nanga Parbat, known as "killer mountain" in Pakistan. They succumbed to altitude sickness at the summit and tried to rush back down.

Revol is currently facing having her hands and left foot amputated due to frostbite. At the end of the whole ordeal, she weighed a mere 45kg.

"We hardly had a second at the top. We had to rush to get down," she said from hospital, according to The Sun.

"Tomasz told me 'I can't see anything any more.'

Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world. Photo / AP (File)
Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world. Photo / AP (File)

"At one point he couldn't breathe, he took off the protection he had in front of his mouth and he began to freeze.

"His nose became white and then his hands, his feet," she recalled.

After a night huddled in a crevasse, Revol said her climbing partner was bleeding from the mouth.

Rescuers arrived after the pair sent a distress signal by satellite phone. They said she could be saved but only if she left him behind.


"They told me, 'If you go down to 6000 metres, we can pick you up'

"It wasn't a decision I made, it was imposed on me."

She left most of her gear with Mackiewicz in a desperate attempt to keep him warm.

She began hallucinating during her descent to 6000 metres, thinking rescuers were bringing her hot tea in exchange for her left shoe. She ended up making the rest of the hike down in bare feet, leaving her with severe frostbite.

A total of 30 climbers died while trying to reach the summit of Nanga Parbat, before Austrian climber Hermann Buhl finally made it to the top for the first time in 1953 as part of a German expedition.