After braving a challenge that trumps Everest—one that claimed the lives of 11 fellow mountaineers—the survivors of this month's K2 disaster tell Andrew Buncombe of the Independent about their harrowing descent. Battling frostbite, Italian guide Marco Confortola watched helplessly as his friends died, while Dutch climber Wilco van Rooijen scrambled back alone, lost, and near-blind.
The survivors blame the tragedy in part on some climbers' inexperience and failure to work together. "They were thinking of 'my gas, my rope', or whatever," says van Rooijen. "Everybody was fighting for himself." Undaunted, van Rooijen will keep climbing. "If you die in the mountains...it happens at the highlight of your life. You are living for your passion."