Islamabad, 9 February 2021 Tour operator Asghar Ali Porik thanked everyone who took part in search and resuce mission to locate Muhammad Ali Sadpara, Juan Pablo Mohr and John Snorri.
The families of three missing climbers from Iceland, Chile, and Pakistan made the difficult decision to proceed with their rescue mission after 72 grueling hours of nonstop intensive search-and-rescue efforts came to a halt due to bad weather, hoping that they can be resumed in the shortest possible timeframe. Jon Snorri, Ali Sadpara and Juan Pablo Mohr had joined forces to make a summit bid on K2 – the last eight-thousand-meter peak unclimbed in winter until a team of 10 Nepali summited earlier this year. Rao Ahmad, Ali Sadpara’s long-time friend and Sajid Sadpara, Ali Sadpara’s son, along with British-American climber, Vanessa O’Brien, who also serves as Pakistan’s Goodwill Ambassador and summited K2 with Jon Snorri, have formed a virtual base camp to ensure a thorough search-and-rescue effort.
We would like to thank everyone who expressed interest in Jon, Ali and JP’s climb, and to those who expressed concern for their wellbeing, those who offered to help (especially Alex Gavan) and those who prayed for their safety and offered ideas and thoughts on the use of drones and search locations. We heard you and appreciate the care, concern and compassion you showed.
There are reasons why K2 in winter had not been climbed before, and those reasons made a search-and-rescue mission almost impossible. The freezing temperatures and wind chill, averaging -50 degrees Celsius, along with exhausted climbers, created a challenge, but everyone did what they could.
At our virtual base camp, we were fortunate to receive Hi-Res Satellite SAR imagery from ICEYE, a provider of persistent monitoring with radar-satellite imaging. SAT imagery has been used in past rescue operations, but no one has every quite used SAR imagery like this before. ICEYE’s slogan, “every square meter, every hour” gave us the perfect visual acuity to view areas inaccessible to helicopters because of harsh winter conditions and excessive winds. This is the future of search-and-rescue technology, and we are extremely grateful to Daniel Leeb, the Founding Partner & Mission Director at the Iceland Space Agency, for his incredible leadership and assistance, as well as the extraordinary teams at Airbus and E-GEOS.
We supplemented this data with input from other technological devices the climbers carried – Garmin, Thuraya, Inmarsat – together with interviews from witnesses, to create a timeframe of the climbers’ locations during their summit bid. We are grateful for the six helicopter flights by the Pakistan Army pilots, who pushed the upper limits during each of these search flights. Many thanks, too, to Canadian-filmmaker Elia Saikaly for capturing imagery during these search-and-rescue flights, and to Chhang Dawa Sherpa for providing his expertise. (Ret) Lt Col. Hassan bin Aftab, Director of Operations at Pakistan Analytica, coordinated overall logistics for the search-and-rescue attempts and served as the point person for our families.
None of this would have been possible without the support and assistance of the Chief of General Staff and the Pakistan Army. We are very grateful to ISPR, the Chief of Defence of Iceland, and the Foreign Ministers of Iceland, Pakistan and Chile. Our respective Ambassadors were extremely generous with their time, and we are appreciative of their assistance. Ashgar Porik, of Jasmine Tours, could not have been more helpful, working 24×7 to help Jon and Ali’s expedition. We had superb support on the ground from our high-altitude porters – Imtiaz and Akbar, Fazal Ali and Jalal. They worked extremely hard, never gave up and continued searching, even this morning.
Finally, we’d like to thank our loved-one’s sponsors. Sponsors are critical to the success of any mountaineering expedition and taking risks on the people who matter and deserve to be rewarded, is critical. All of these sponsors have led by example – we applaud these brands and ask for your patronage.
For Ali, the nation of Pakistan is your biggest support followed the Canadian High Commissioner to Pakistan; Wendy Gilmore, who recognized how gifted Ali was and through her gestures and friendship provided him tremendous support. HC Gilmore demonstrated what Simone Moro said in words, “Ali Sadpara is to Pakistan what Tenzing Norgay was to Nepal.” We are so grateful that you supported Ali, and we want you to know how much he appreciated it.
For Jon, the nation of Iceland will always remember the national anthem you sang on K2 and it awaits an encore!
For JP, we are incredibly lucky to have this list below. You made his dreams come true, and we are forever grateful to you for that.