Helicopter spots tent on Pakistan peak dubbed ‘killer mountain’ amid hunt for missing Brit climber, 30, who vanished 24 years after mum’s death on K2
A HELICOPTER and rescue team that was desperately searching for a missing British climber on Pakistan’s ‘killer mountain’ have found a snow-covered tent.
Tom Ballard, 31, and his companion Daniele Nardi, 42, have not been heard of since Sunday when they were 20,000ft up Nanga Parbat in Pakistan.
The 26,000ft mountain is the ninth highest in the world and the men went missing as weather conditions deteriorated with snow, fog and strong winds reported.
Current tensions between Pakistan and India meant a helicopter was grounded but after diplomatic pressure permission was given for it to fly over the scene in a hunt for the climbers.
The rescue team has now found a tent as well as evidence of an avalanche.
Nanga Parbat Winter Expedition Rescue told The Telegraph that the tent, which was found at about 5,500 metres, was a “reddish-orange colour”.
On board was a team of rescuers led by experienced climber Ali Sadpara who has been involved in previous missions to save stranded mountaineers.
Italy’s ambassador to Pakistan Stefano Pontecorvo wrote on Twitter: “Rescue helicopter to search for Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard is flying and approaching area of Nanga Parbat where they could be.
“Ali Sadpara is on board. Weather still conducive to search. Praying for a speedy and positive outcome. Thank you to Pak Army for assistance.”
A message on Italian Daniele Nardi’s Facebook site from his team at base camp added: “The helicopter took advantage of a good weather window with what little light remained but the forecast is for conditions to deteriorate.
Rescue helicopter to search for Daniele Nardi and Tom Ballard is flying and approaching area of Nanga Parbat where they could be
Italy's ambassador to Pakistan Stefano Pontecorvo
“The aim to carry out a visual reconnaissance and see if a rescue mission is possible and also at the same time safe.
“We have not ruled out a rescue attempt from a team at the neighbouring K2 mountain which is acclimatised and technically suited and could be considered.”
Tom is an experienced mountaineer and the son of adventurer Alison Hargreaves, who was the first woman to scale Everest unaided.
In August 1995 just months after setting the record, she was killed as she returned from the top of K2, the world’s second highest mountain.
Tom was the first person to climb all six north faces of the Alps in one winter.
Nanga Parbat is the ninth highest peak in the world and earned its nickname after dozens of climbers fell to their deaths while on the slopes.
In a recent interview Tom said: “Since I was ten all I wanted to do was climb. Even before I was born I climbed the North Face of the Eiger.
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“So I think it’s not much of a surprise what I do now.”
In his last Facebook post on February 19 he wrote: “Basecamp life is becoming almost like a holiday while we wait for that elusive weather window.”
He added: “Luncheon in the sun and afternoon skiing. What more could you want ?”