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Chilling Accounts of Nanga Parbat Massacre

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Nanga Parbat. Photo from Wikipedia

6/28/13 – Various accounts of the June 22-23 massacres of 11 climbers and support staff at the Diamir base camp of Nanga Parbat are emerging. Zhang Jingchuan, the sole surviving climber in base camp that night, has returned to China and gave a few details of his experience to Chinese reporters in this account.

American climber Jesse Huey, who returned from Pakistan this week after deciding not to continue on his planned expedition to the Karakoram, received an email recounting the experience of Polish climbers on Nanga Parbat during and after the massacre. This account by Polish Alpine Club member Boguslaw Magrel is reproduced below.

[For another perspective, Steve Swenson, a veteran of 11 climbing expeditions to Pakistan, has written about the historical and political background to the Nanga Parbat killings, options for climbing in northern Pakistan, and the impact of this incident on the local people of Gilgit-Baltistan at his blog. Click here to read this extremely informative piece.]

The Polish Nanga Parbat story originally appeared in Polish on the expedition website. Here is the rough translation using Bing and Google services:

“Hello, it is very difficult to find the words to describe what happened to us. But I think the matter is so serious that you need and you should talk about it openly and decisively.

“As you know, June 6 we went on a trip to Pakistan, where the goal was to climb Nanga Parbat. We checked in at Diamir Base Camp on June 10. The next day we went up the mountain, where we set up Camp 1 at 4,800m, an intermediate camp at 5,300, then a second camp at 6,000 m.

“Quite optimistic we looked to the future, because at the bottom of the mountain we met strong teams from Pakistan, Ukraine, an international team comprising climbers from Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, another team of Ukrainian-Slovak climbers, additionally came Sherpas with clients from China and a climber from Turkey. In total, about 50 climbers.

“Then we had a great misfortune. Our camp at Nanga Parbat was attacked on the night of June 22/23 by armed men claiming to be Taliban [Ed: Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan]. The camp was surrounded; all climbers were dragged out of their tents, bound, robbed, and then shot.

“The Taliban were disappointed that they could not catch the Americans and stated that it is a revenge for the killing of Osama Bin Laden. ‘OkoliczolnoĹ›ci’ executions are familiar to me, but I will not recount them here. In this horrific crime 11 people lost their lives, including many prominent mountaineers.

“The remaining climbers managed to escape death as we were in the higher camps. Speaking also of luck, the Nepalese people returned to the camp at night; they heard gunshots literally 300 meters before they entered BC. The Taliban did not attack the camp workers; most of whom were recruited from this valley.

“We have learned about the tragedy from the only climber who managed to escape from the camp. While trying to escape, our Chinese friend was shot in the ear, but by satellite phone he was able to tell his Nepalese agency, which then alerted Nazir Sabir in Pakistan. This famous climber immediately informed the Pakistani Army, which sent helicopters to the Base Camp. Soldiers secured the area and ordered us to immediately return to the base.

“By the evening all climbers reached BC, but that night, no one slept. In the morning three helicopters flew in, including an Mi-8, which evacuated us to Gilgit. From there a military Hercules plane took us to Islamabad.

“Our expedition is over. Currently we are trying to get our equipment, which remained at Base Camp, to return to Poland. Unfortunately, it is not easy because of Pakistani support agencies leave much to be desired. Also the support of the government is very weak. Everybody who plans to climb a mountain in Pakistan should rethink their plans, because the Taliban officially informed that tourists will be targeted in further attacks. It should also be noted that it is a complete change in their terrorist activities, because so far no attack was done against foreign tourists. Prosecution of the murderers is very difficult, because the current Pakistani government is sympathetic to the Taliban.”