Pride Of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Sadpara: Never Come Back From K2

Mohammad Ali Sadpara will be remembered as the pride of his nation. He is a versatile climber by the international community of mountaineers. He will be leaving a great lesson for youth. He is such a great believer!
Pakistan's Climber

Ali sadpara is the one and the only climber from Pakistan who has climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains, and made the first winter ascent of the world’s 9th highest mountain named Nanga Parbat.

Latest Update

The saddest news is: According to a recent update about 5th February (Friday) he went missing along with two others of his companions John Snorri from and Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr from Chile (country of South American) - while trying to climb K2, the world’s second-highest peak at 8,611m and also popular deadliest.

His son was his team member

In this journey, he was not alone his son Sajid Sadpara was also a member of the team, and to summit K2 without oxygen was the idea of father and son duo, a feat did before especially in winter. But, according to the report, Sajid had turn back from a spot called Bottleneck and also known as the “Death Zone” approximately 300 meters from the top, aster he felt sick.

Military help

He has since helped military-led rescue teams scour the mountain for signs of his father and the other two men but there has been no trace of any of them. The military wants to resume the search, weather permitting, using a high-altitude C-130 aircraft and infrared technology to spot possible shelters on the peak.

But Sajid doesn’t hold out much hope.

“I’m thankful to everyone organizing a search, but it’s unlikely that they are alive by now. So, the search should be to recover their bodies,” he said earlier this week.

How did Mohammad Ali Sadpara start climbing?

All about Ali Sadpara

Mohammad Ali Sadpara was born in 1976 in Sadpara, a village in one of the river valleys of the Himalayan Baltistan region in Pakistan’s extreme north.

Livestock farming is the main source of livelihood in the region, and the area’s youth also work as porters with Western mountaineers and adventure tourists who frequent the region each year.

Sadpara finished middle school in the village and his father, a low-grade government employee, later moved the family to Skardu town, where Sadpara studied up to higher secondary school before moving on climbing.

Nisar Abbas, a local journalist and relative and friend of Sadpara from their village days, describes him as being extraordinary right from his childhood.

Good in all his fields

“He had the physique and the habits of an athlete and was also good in studies. He never failed a class. Since his elder brother never did well in school, his father was keen to get him a good education and that’s why he moved him to Skardu.”

Given the family’s financial constraints, he moved to climb in around 2003 or 2004.

Instant success

"He was an instant success with tour operators because the expeditions he led were mostly successful. He earned worldwide fame in 2016 when a three-man team he was a member of became the first to summit Nanga Parbat in winter.

Hamid Hussain, a Karachi-based tour operator from Skardu who has known Sadpara since 2012, has similar memories.

“He was brave and pleasant and very friendly,” he says. “And he was so physically fit. We trekked together on many occasions, and while there were times when we would run out of breath and collapse, he would still jog up the steep slopes and then shout back at us, asking us to be quick.”

2016, Colleague lost!

On one occasion in the winter of 2016, during a trek from Sadpara valley to the Alpine planes of Deosai, when freezing winds caught them in a snow-filled gorge and sent shivers down their spines, they saw him climb smoothly up the slope and start dancing over the ridge.

Ali Sadpara had been in tight spots before, and he knew the risks.

“I have lost 12 of my 14 colleagues in the mountaineering business. Two of us remain,” he said in a 2019 interview. “So, my friends now often ask me, Ali, when are you going to die?”

Why summit K2 without oxygen?

One theory is that he was working as a high-altitude porter for John Snorri and had to comply with the agreement he had signed with him.

But that was just a ruse, Nisar Abbas says. Weeks earlier, Sadpara had openly expressed his keenness to attempt a 10-member Nepalese team led by the famous Sherpa Nirmal Puja became the first-ever to summit K2 in winter.

And to set a new record, Sadpara wanted to do it too - but without oxygen. And he also wanted his son to be there when it happened.

Sajid to media

Sajid, his son, told the media that they had started with some 25 to 30 climbers, local and foreign, but all of them turned back before hitting the 8,000-metre point.

Sajid’s condition worsened when they hit the Bottleneck.

“We had carried an oxygen cylinder in our emergency gear. My father told me to take it out and use some. It will make me feel better.”

But while Sajid was setting up the cylinder, its mask regulator sprang a leak.

Meanwhile, his father and the two foreigners continued to scale the Bottleneck. His father then looked back and shouted to Sajid to keep climbing.

“I shouted that the cylinder had leaked. He said, ‘don’t worry, keep climbing, you’ll feel better’. But I couldn’t gather the strength to do it and decided to turn back. It was around noon on Friday. That was the last I saw of them.”

When asked why Sadpara insisted that he keep going, Sajid said: “The Nepalese had done it weeks earlier, and he wanted to do it too, because K2 is our mountain.”

What could have happened?

Sajid says he saw the three men climb over the bottleneck at the top, which means that they probably did make it to the summit.

Experts say most accidents happen while descending, as even a slight loss of balance can send one crashing down into an abyss.

Those who knew Sadpara doubt he would have made such an error.

People in his village still recall more than one occasion when a goat Sadpara was tending in the mountains got injured, and instead of slitting its throat, as others would, he’d haul it over his shoulders and walk down to take it to the village vet.

They suspect that he probably failed to make it back because one or both of his partners met with an accident and he stayed on trying to find a way to save them.

We will probably never know.

People in the area have been awaiting a miracle.

But as his son says, given the hostile environment, low oxygen, and winter temperatures dipping to as low as -80C, there’s little chance the men could have survived a week at over 8,000m.

“This hasn’t happened in climbing history, so we can only hope for a miracle,” Sajid Sadpara in his latest interview.