Renowned mountaineer Muhammad Ali Sadpara and two other climbers who went missing early this month while attempting to scale K2, the world's second-highest mountain, were declared dead on Thursday after hectic efforts spanning over two weeks to locate them failed to produce any positive result.
Mr Sadpara and his companions John Snorri from Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr from Chile went missing on February 5 on Mount K2 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's Gilgit-Baltistan region. They had teamed to summit the 8,611-metre peak in winter, a huge challenge.
PoK's Gilgit-Baltistan official Raja Nasir Ali Khan told the media in Skardu on Thursday that due to the harsh weather conditions at K2, it was concluded by rescue teams and other stakeholders that "Sadpara and his comrades have died".
"We pays tribute to the services of Ali Sadpara. He will be given a civil award along with his son Sajid Sadpara. A mountaineering school will be established in the name of Ali Sadpara," the official said.
Ali Sadpara's son Sajid, who was along with his father to summit K2 but had to return after his health deteriorated midway, said that his father summited the peak before meeting the accident.
"Ali Sadpara met with an accident after summiting K2 and is now resting in the mountain forever. All resources were utilised in the search and rescue operation," he said.
"The world has lost a skilled mountaineer. I will continue my father's mission and fulfill his dreams," Sajid Sadpara said.
Pakistan made unprecedented effort to find the three mountaineers in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, by using helicopters and even sending an F-16 when helicopters couldn't fly due to bad weather but failed to find them alive or dead.
Ali Sadpara belonged to a small village of the same name in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's Gilgit-Baltistan. He started his career as a porter and finally rose to become an expert climber. He had been at the top of eight out of 14 world peaks which are more than 8,000 metre tall.
K2 is the second highest peak in the world but is considered by some to be more difficult to climb as compared to the tallest, Mount Everest. It is known as the 'Savage Mountain' among many climbers and was never summitted in winter until a 10-member team of Nepalese performed the feat in January this year.
Ali Sadpara and his team would be the second team to do the same if proved that they had reached at the top.