Pakistan has been truly deadly this summer. 3 Iranian climbers were lost last week on 26,414-foot Broad Peak in Pakistan just days before 3 Spanish climbers were lost on 26,590-foot Hidden Peak in Pakistan. Both the Iranian and Spanish parties encountered navigation issues upon their descents after summiting their respective mountains.
This latest tragedy was the result of an avalanche that hit a father-son team over the weekend on Pakistan’s 28,250-foot K2. The camp of the 53-year Marty Schmidt and 24-year Denali Schmidt was discovered by Sherpas on Sunday, July 28th. Their tent at Camp 3 had been damaged by an avalanche that likely occurred during a large snowstorm that had recently shaken the mountain. That storm had caused the retreat of all 19 of the other climbers on the mountain to Base Camp.
The father-son team’s last communication with Base Camp was on Friday, July 26th. It’s currently believed that they were sleeping in their tent when the avalanche hit. Their crampons and ice axes were found intact.
The father, Marty Schmit, was once a US Air Force pararescueman who’d been a mountain guide for 38 years.
“Raised in California, Marty Schmidt has been guiding since 1975 and climbed extensively in the U.S. before moving to New Zealand, where he became well known as one of that country’s top high-altitude climbers and guides. In 2011, 28 years after doing a new route on Denali, Marty Schmidt returned to the mountain with his son, also a superb mountaineer, and the pair summited the south and north peaks of North America’s highest peak, as well as Mt. Foraker, and also climbed a new route on Denali. The younger man made a film that tells the story of this remarkable father-and-son expedition and is a lovely tribute to the two men.” – Climbing.com
Message from British climber Adrian Hayes at K2 Base Camp:
“The deaths of a father and son is a tragedy in itself but compounded even further by the fact that Marty and Denali (pictured climbing to Camp 2 last Thursday) – who were great people that we all got to know very well in the close knit community of K2 Base Camp – were very well known, highly experienced and extremely strong mountaineers, the last people many would expect to be killed on a mountain.
Sadly, at times the mountains do not differentiate between ability and experience, least of all K2. The poignancy of the tragedy is not lost in that, had the rest of us not turned back that day – including Marty and Denali’s Australian team mate Chris Warner – we also all would have been sleeping at Camp 3 when the avalanche struck.
In mountaineering, there is often a very thin line between life and death and here was yet one more occasion. 6 teams came down and are alive and well, one team went up and are tragically dead. On behalf of all of us remaining at Base Camp, our sincerest condolences to their family and may Marty and Denali rest in peace. Posted with the full co-operation and agreement of Chris Warner.”
K2 is the most difficult mountain to climb on Earth. If you climb K2, you have reached mountaineering’s pinnacle. These men were on a noble mission.
K2 (also known as Chhogori/Qogir, Ketu/Kechu, and Mount Godwin-Austen) is the second-highest mountain on Earth, after Mount Everest. It is located on the border between Baltistan, in the Gilgit–Baltistan (part of Kashmir under the administration of Pakistan), and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. With a peak elevation of 8,611 m (28,251 feet), K2 is the highest point of the Karakoram Range and the highest point in Pakistan.
K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the extreme difficulty of ascent and the second-highest fatality rate among the eight thousanders. For every four people who have reached the summit, one has died trying. It is more hazardous to reach K2 from the Chinese side; thus, it is mostly climbed from the Pakistani side. Unlike Annapurna, the mountain with the highest fatality-to-summit rate, K2 has never been climbed in winter. – wikipedia
We send out our deepest condolences to everyone involved. It is very sad to lose such experienced mountain men.