Islamabad: Two missing climbers from Canada and Australia have been found dead and their bodies were spotted between camp 1 and camp 2 of K2, the world’s second highest mountain.
The casualties were reported after celebrations as this year’s summer K2 summit season saw nearly 100 Pakistani and foreign mountaineers reach the summit of K2 on July 22.
Canada’s experienced alpinist Dr Richard Cartier, 60, and his teammate, Matthew Eakin of Australia, died during the K2 expedition, local climbers and their friends said.
Justin Dube-Fahmy, a climber from Quebec (Canada), posted on Facebook on July 22 that he and his climbing partners, Cartier and Matt, were about to head back down to K2 base camp from camp 4 (7600m) after 16 hours of climbing. “It’s starting to get cold. We are pretty tired after these two big days” he wrote.
Local sources said that the Canadian climber fell from a cliff while descending from C4. The cause of the fatal accident remains unknown. The body of Richard was found near camp 1 and the body of Matt was spotted near advanced base camp (ABC), according to Pakistani media.
This is the third death reported on K2 this month. An Afghan climber, Ali Akbar Sakki, died last week due to a cardiac arrest while attempting to scale K2.
Cartier and Eakin were part of the expedition organized by Adventure Pakistan Treks and Expedition. Their teammates included Justin Dube-Fahmy, Jacob Wetche, Rob Springer, and Richard Agnew.
Friends, family pay tribute
Friends and family are mourning the tragic deaths. The family of Cartier, Quebec doctor and father of two, said that he “lived his passion to the end.” In a statement to Canada’s CTV, the family said: “As Richard said so well in his work in palliative care, ‘People die the way they lived.’ This was the case for Richard.” The statement added that he “maintained his energy level until the end, but the mountain decided otherwise on July 22, 2022.”
Cartier’s close friend, Jacques Lamontagne, described the climber in a social media post as a “climbing partner and an exemplary friend. Richard was always smiling, funny and in a good mood.”
The world’s second-highest 8611-metres high K2 mountain, which straddles the borders of Pakistan and China, has been known as Savage Mountain for its deadly reputation. The ratio of deaths to ascents on K2 is nearly one to six.
Matt Eakin of Australia was remembered as a climber who “touched many souls” along the summit. Australian adventurist Rob Norman said on Facebook: “Anyone who had the pleasure to spend even a few minutes with Matthew Eakin would no doubt come away with a renewed zest for life. A guy that constantly gave his time to others. He lived the life he wanted, wore his heart on his sleeve, made the most out of this precious life we have and always did it with a smile on his face.”
Australian mountaineering community Climb & Wine said that Eakin’s death is “devastating”. In social media post, the community that “Matt embodied energy, passion and enthusiasm to live life to the fullest extent, embracing every opportunity to experience what life had to offer. Matt supported many in our community to develop skills and confidence in the adventure world.” It added: “Rest now in the arms of the mountains. She will hold you tight.”