Bad weather halts search for missing climbers on Pakistan's K2

Islamabad (AFP) –


Hopes faded Wednesday for three climbers lost on Pakistan's brutal K2 as bad weather halted search operations on the world's second highest mountain.

Climbers John Snorri from Iceland, Juan Pablo Mohr from Chile and Muhammad Ali Sadpara of Pakistan lost contact with base camp on Friday, sparking a massive rescue effort that included military helicopters.

Two climbers have already died on K2's treacherous slopes since January, and a third mountaineer was lost during an acclimatising mission on a nearby peak.

"No search operation has been carried out since yesterday afternoon," Raja Nasir Ali Khan, the tourism minister in Gilgit-Baltistan where K2 is located, told AFP Wednesday.

"The effort will continue as the weather improves", he added.

Karrar Haidri, of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, confirmed rescue operations were on hold.

Dozens of climbers had descended on K2 in the past few months attempting to be the first to make a winter ascent of what is known in mountaineering circles as "the savage mountain".

History was made, however, with a team of Nepali climbers reached the peak -- sparking jubilation at home.

Conditions on K2 are harsh -- winds can blow at more than 200 kilometres per hour (125 miles per hour) and temperatures can drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit).

With Pakistan's borders open and few other places to go, this winter an unprecedented four teams totalling around 60 climbers have converged on the mountain.

Unlike Mount Everest, which has been scaled by thousands of climbers young and old, K2 is much less travelled due to its tough conditions.