Three mountaineers who went missing earlier this month while attempting to scale the world’s second-highest mountain, K2, should now be considered dead, Pakistani officials said Thursday. The announcement brings closure to a dramatic snowbound rescue effort on one of the most dangerous mountains to climb in the world. K2 had never been scaled in winter until only last month when a Nepalese team reached the peak. Search efforts for the missing climbers, famous Pakistani mountaineer Ali Sadpara as well as Jon Snorri of Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile, were called off last week, reports the AP; authorities had used helicopters and porters to try to recover the bodies.
Sadpara's son, Sajid, speaking at a news conference alongside officials, told reporters in the northern town of Skardu that he was grateful authorities did their best to try to find the group, which went missing on Feb. 5. "I believe they scaled it but had an accident while coming down," the younger Sadpara said, adding that he himself had hoped to join the group but couldn't because his oxygen tanks malfunctioned. The three climbers lost contact with their base camp while attempting their ascent of the 28,250-foot high K2—sometimes referred to as "killer mountain." In winter, winds on K2 can blow at more than 125mph and temperatures can drop to minus 76 Fahrenheit. In one of the deadliest mountaineering accidents ever, 11 climbers died in a single day trying to scale K2 in 2008. (After the three men went missing, winter ascents were suspended.)