Two weary Spanish climbers wept Sunday as they told of their ordeal on the world’s second-highest mountain, a climb that killed seven mountaineers, including Alison Hargreaves of Britain.
Lorenzo Ortas Pont and Jose Antonio (Pepe) Garces--leader of the five-member Spanish expedition--were overcome with emotion as they limped off the plane that brought them from Pakistan’s extreme northern region.
Speaking briefly through an interpreter, they said brutal winds plagued their climb of K2. The 28,251-foot mountain is second to Mt. Everest in height and considered a more difficult ascent.
“Reaching the summit of K2 there was a terrible wind,” they said.
Three Spaniards--Javier Escartin, Lorenzo Ortiz Monson and Javier Olivar--were among the seven climbers who died Aug. 13, most above the mountain’s 26,400-foot mark. The others were Hargreaves, Robert Slater of Colorado, Jeff Lakes of Canada and Bruce Grant of New Zealand.
In May, Hargreaves, 33, became the first woman to reach the top of the 29,026-foot Everest alone and without using oxygen.
It is now not clear whether an avalanche or high winds swept the climbers from K2. Earlier reports blamed an avalanche, but survivors arriving in the mountain town of Skardu said a blinding blizzard struck, killing the mountaineers.
On Saturday, a helicopter rescued Pont and Garces from the base camp on K2.