Monday, August 4, 2008

2 S'porean mountaineers escape K2 disaster

Aug 4, 2008

By Judith Tan

IT WAS a case of better late than early for two Singaporean mountaineers attempting to climb K2, the world's second highest peak.

Both Mr Edwin Siew, Dr Robert Goh and their sherpas were not caught in the ice fall on Saturday, which swept away the fixed ropes climbers were using to make their descent.

At least 11 mountaineers died near the summit of K2 when a huge chunk of ice sheared off the mountain and hit them.

The deaths happened after 17 climbers, in different expeditions from around the world came together to scale K2's peak.

Mrs Lulin Reutens, a spokesman for the expedition, said the climb to Camp 3, located at 7,300 m, 'was a hard slog as strong winds caused temperature to fall fast'.

'Our climbers and their sherpas were about a day late in arriving at base camp and needed time to acclimatise,' she said.

And that saved them from getting into harm's way, which could have meant certain death.

Among the killed climbers were Dutch, Irish, Italian, French, Norwegian, South Korean, and Nepalese citizens.

The bodies of the 11 may never be recovered, but rescuers and the mountaineers who made it down are certain that they are dead.

The site of the accidents, about 8,047 m up the mountain, is what climbers call the 'Dead Zone' because no-one could survive if stuck in such freezing conditions with so little oxygen.

The pyramid-shaped K2, which sits on the border between Pakistan and China in the towering Karakoram range, is considered by mountaineers to be by far the hardest of the 14 summits over 8,000 metres to scale.

About 77 climbers have died on K2 since 1939.

[Singaporeans are already tardy by habit. This will just reinforce bad habits of Singaporeans who turn up late for meetings, late for wedding dinners, etc.]

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