Monday, 29 July 2013

New Zealand's Marty Schmidt and son feared dead on K2


K2Many experts say K2 is a tougher climb than Everest





Denali Schmidt
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Denali Schmidt.
Marty Schmidt
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Marty Schmidt
Marty Schmidt set his sights high in wanting to become the first father-son team to summit one of the most unforgiving mountains in the world.
Instead, the former Christchurch resident and his son are believed to have been killed by an avalanche on 8611-metre-tall K2 - the highest point in the Karakoram Range spanning Pakistan, India and China. It is the second highest peak in the world.
The New Zealand mountaineering community is today in mourning. Sam Newton, from the New Zealand Alpine Club, said he understood Schmidt, 53, and Denali, 25, had been missing for two days.
A report from K2 base camp officials "seems to confirm our worst fears", he said. "They believe that Marty and his son, Denali, were killed by an avalanche at Camp 3 on July 26 or 27."
It is believed a search was underway for the pair.
British mountaineer Adrian Hayes, who was climbing with Schmidt's expedition, said all of Camp Three had been wiped out by an avalanche.
It is believed all other climbers on K2 had retreated to Base Camp and abandoned their expeditions due to the avalanche risk. 



"The deaths of a father and son is a tragedy in itself but compounded even further by the fact that Marty and Denali . . . . were very well known, highly experienced and extremely strong mountaineers - the last people many would expect to be killed on a mountain," Hayes said.
Aspiring Guides director Whitney Thurlow, who had worked with Schmidt in the mountains for more than 10 years, was still hopeful the pair would be found.
"I keep thinking, 'he's disappeared before . . . he's going to reappear'," Thurlow said.
Schmidt was born in California and moved to New Zealand in 1988, where he settled in Christchurch between climbing trips throughout the country and overseas.
He became an accomplished climber and did a lot of "cutting- edge climbing" in the Himalayas, Thurlow said.
Schmidt married and had two children, one of whom had caught his love for the outdoors.
Denali Schmidt had been "just getting going" in the mountaineering field, Thurlow said.
"He was just young, wondering what he was going to do with his life, and he was getting sucked in doing exciting things with Marty."
Schmidt was close to becoming fully qualified as a New Zealand mountain guide but, ironically, had only his avalanche courses left to complete.
His disappearance is the second K2 tragedy for the tight-knit central South Island community, after Queenstown adventurer Bruce Grant died on the summit in 1995.
"Two isn't a big number but it kind of seems to me that that's where keen Kiwis go to die," Thurlow said.
Adventure Consultants director Guy Cotter, who had known Schmidt for about 15 years, said he was not known for being a risk- taker.
Last year, Schmidt became the oldest New Zealander to climb to the top of Mt Everest at age 51.
Schmidt completed another climb of Everest last month, before heading to Pakistan where Denali met him to start their K2 expedition. They were accompanied by Schmidt's good friend and fellow climber Australian Chris Warner.
Since K2 was first conquered in 1954, about 280 people have succeeded in climbing it - with roughly one death for every three successful climbs.

Thanks to Stuff.co.nz for permission to use this article.

Here in another account from the BBC four hours ago.


A New Zealand father and son are feared dead after an avalanche on K2, the world's second highest mountain.
Marty Schmidt, 53, and his son Denali, 25, were last heard from on Friday, climbers at base camp said.


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Other teams on K2, which is on the Pakistan-China border, had turned back because of dangerous snow conditions.
The deaths, if confirmed, would mean more than 20 mountaineers killed in a month, making it one of Pakistan's deadliest climbing seasons for years.
They include 10 foreigners and a local porter shot dead by militants at Nanga Parbat in June.
British climber and explorer Adrian Hayes was in one of six other teams that abandoned attempts on K2 over the weekend.
'Forceful character'
Mr Hayes told the BBC the climbers took the decision to retreat from Camp 2 after sherpas reported bad weather up ahead.

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They climbed together and they died sleeping together”
Adrian HayesClimber
"The sherpas on our team went up to Camp 3, and they found themselves wading through four feet of snow. An avalanche came very near them, within 20m. They came down a little bit spooked and said it's impossible, we can't go up right now," he said.
But while most teams decided to turn back, including a Swiss team and a Spanish climber, the New Zealanders decided to head for Camp 3.
"I think that they took the view that the retreat from Camp 2 was a little bit premature. The conditions were bad and I think they acknowledged that. But they wanted to go up to Camp 3 to check it out themselves," said Mr Hayes.
He described Marty Schmidt as a "forceful character", saying he was "highly assertive, very strong, very competent, as was his son (Denali)".
"Marty was extremely proud of Denali, and Denali looked up to his father greatly. They climbed together... and they died sleeping together, which is such a tragedy.
He described K2 as a "dangerous mountain, very difficult, very steep".
"Obviously there's a lot of shock here at the base camp because they were so experienced. But having said that, mountaineering is a risky sport (and) death is an expected part and parcel of it," he said.
Other climbing accidents this summer have seen three Iranians and a German die on Broad Peak, a Polish climber die on G2, and three Spaniards killed on G1, he said.

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