Karl Unterkircher – Disaster on Nanga Parbat


The tragedy is traumatic yet true, there is no hope. This morning at 6am Herbert Mussner, Karls manager got a phone call from the climbers satallite phone. Usually it is Karl that keeps contact but this time it was Simon who spoke. The line was bad but Simon said that Karl had fallen down a crevice and was covered with snow. After a hellish night of attempting in vain to rescue him, Simon and Walter had to continue the climb leaving Karl behind.

The tragic incident happened at around 6000m and the two remaining climbers have to continue upwards as it would be too dangerous to descend from the route they have climbed. They must reach 7000m to get off the wall and then they will try to descend via the safest and quickest route.

We know no more details about what has happened or what condition, and indeed where, Simon and Walter are. Clearly they are in great danger without their group leader who was the most experienced. The climb ahead is exceptionally difficult and dangerous, in fact nobody has every climbed this route before. Since this morning there has been no further communication with the two and it will take days for them to reach a Base Camp.Rescue is impossible at 7000m
Because of the thin air at altitude it is impossible for a helicopter to fly at such hight. The wall is also too exposed for a helicopter to get close.

Karl Unterkircher is 38 years old, and leaves behind a wife with three young children. He is from the Val Gardena in South Tirol and was the President of the Aiut Alpin Dolomites (Mountain Rescue). In 2004 Karl climbed both The K2 and Everest and together with the other members of the expedition was honoured by the President of the Italian Republic and the Pope.