A climber from the UK had a near miss in an ice fall on K2 that killed four Russian climbers.
Terence ‘Banjo’ Bannon was in a party near the summit of the Karakorum peak when he witnessed the massive slide of ice and snow which buried the four. The avalanche narrowly missed him and two other Russians and a Pole, who were climbing independently of the Russian Kuzbass team.
Banjo Bannon, from Newry, County Down, has climbed Everest in 2003. He says Sunday’s accident has put paid to his attempt on the world’s second highest peak – rated one of the hardest of ascents. His own team’s attempts had earlier been dashed when their tents were swept away by an avalanche, leading to him joining the two surviving Russians and the Pole.
Bad weather grounded helicopters in the area. The incident happened at 8,350m, when what Sergey Bogomolov, who was climbing with Bannon, describes as a huge slab of ice broke away and took the party down the mountain. He said: “It was an enormous piece of the frozen snow and ice, 120 x 80 metres size.
“It has simply swept guys away from a crest with wild speed and behaved as an avalanche. Having fallen downwards, it dragged off people behind itself. But there were no usual characteristic sounds.
“If snow starts to fall, the noise is audible to everyone who is near the mountain. But here all has happened almost silently. None of us heard how and when this snow ‘board’ struck”
Warm weather has meant K2 has been summited only four times this year, as climbers have retreated under the threat of avalanche and rock falls. British climber Alison Hargreaves lost her life on the Pakistan mountain on the same date, 13 August, in 1995 and Alan Rouse was one of three climbers who died of acute mountain sickness and exhaustion in 1986.