Desperate Rescue in the Karakoram Continues



Oscar Perez and Alvaro Novellón, during a previous expedition. Photo courtesy of Efe

August 12, 2009 - The news from Latok II is desperate. Efforts in Pakistan to save Spanish climber Oscar Perez, who is at 6,200 meters with a broken leg and arm, are proving to be slow and complicated, although officially it is said that there is total support of the local authorities. After waiting all morning to contact Sebastian Alvaro (of Al Filo de lo Imposible), we finally made contact with Peña Guara, however the original flight program anticipated for today has not been completed this morning.

The Spanish Embassy in Pakistan is focused on this rescue operation, and has since moved an official to Skardu to make all the arrangements and procedures on the ground. The Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan has already issued orders to helicopter sections of Skari Aviation in Skardu to transfer as near as possible two North American alpinists to collaborate in the rescue and to carry out an aircraft reconnaissance to try to see Oscar Perez and also so that Oscar might see he is being looked after. Nevertheless, although the weather is good and officially the full support is available, incomprehensibly, the program has not been completed.

Alvaro (left) and Oscar (right) next to their cook with Latok I to the bottom, which they tried before Latok II. Photo courtesy of Efe

Two helicopters have taken off and deposited 215 kilos of supplies on the Biafo Glacier (8 kilometers from the pre-established location) which is on the south face of the mountain. Pakistani aviation argues that there are many crevasses so it cannot land elsewhere. Also they have moved Alvaro Novellón and Fabrizio Zangrilli to the southern slope, to reach Perez as quickly as possible on the wall. They have been unable to leave the load, at a distance of about two hours trekking, so they are waiting for the hope of another flight with the rest of the supplies.

More details will be posted as soon as they are made available.

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