Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pakistan 2013: Czech Climber Dies On Gasherbrum I

The climbing season in Pakistan is now officially over, but not before it claimed the life of yet another respected alpinist. On Monday it was revealed that Zdenek Hruby, the President of the Czech Mountaineering Federation died on Gasherbrum I after attempting to open a new route to the summit along the Southwest Face. He was 57 years old.

Apparently Zdenek was climbing with is partner Marek Holecek along the new route when they ran into difficult high on the mountain. They decided to abandon their attempt and return to Base Camp but on the descent Hruby slipped and fell a thousand feet, dying instantly. The members of his team gathered in Camp 1 to claim the body, which was then lowered into a crevasse as per his families wishes.

An experienced and talented climber, Zdenek had eight of the fourteen 8000-meter peaks on his resume, including ascents of both Gasherbrum I and II as well as Nanga Parbat. Recently, he and Marek had launched a new climbing project that hey had dubbed "Never Stop Exploring." Their first climb was the successful first ascent of the North Face on Talung Peak, a 7349 meter (24,110 ft) mountain located in the Eastern Himalaya of India. The new route on Gasherbrum I was first attempted in 2009 and they had hoped to take care of unfinished business this year. Unfortunately, the expedition has ended in tragedy.

I think it is safe to say that the entire mountaineering community will be happy to put the summer season in Pakistan behind us. It has been an incredibly tough year in the Himalaya and Karakoram. We were all shocked when 11 people were killed by armed gunmen in BC on Nanga Parbat. Later we said goodbye to Polish climbing legend Artur Hajzer, who perished on Gasherbrum I as well, only to lose Marty and Denali Schmidt on K2 a few weeks later. Add Zdenek to the list and this has been an incredibly costly season indeed.

My condolences to Zdenek's family and friends in this time of need.

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