ISLAMABAD: The French mountaineer who was saved in a daring night-time rescue on Nanga Parbat flew home Tuesday, vowing to come back to scale other mountains.
Elisabeth Revol was rescued by an elite group of Polish climbers who scaled part of the 8,125 metres mountain in darkness overnight Saturday and Sunday to reach her.
They were unable to reach a second climber, Polish national Tomek (Tomasz) Mackiewicz, however, making the “terrible and painful” decision to leave him behind.
“Good bye Pakistan. I will come again to climb mountains of Pakistan but not Nanga Parbat,” Revol said in a departure message shared by the Alpine Club of Pakistan.
“Thanks to all official(s) including Pakistan Army, Alpine Club of Pakistan and local authorities,” she was quoted as saying in the message.
“Revol left Pakistan at 3:00 am local time on Monday night with an aim to come back soon,” Karrar Haidri, a spokesman for Alpine Club of Pakistan, confirmed to AFP, adding that she had flown to her home country.
The French-Polish pair ran into trouble after making a late descent to a camp Thursday.
They were trapped on the side of the mountain for the night without a tent, battered by frigid temperatures and high winds during the winter season.
The rescue mission was launched after the missing alpinists were located Friday by fellow mountaineers using binoculars. They spotted Revol attempting to climb down while Mackiewicz appeared to be crawling due to frostbite.
The team of Polish climbers with support from the Pakistani military launched the rescue attempt Saturday afternoon, flying in from the base camp of K2 — the world´s second-highest peak — to reach the stranded duo.
Pakistani climber Karim Shah, who was in contact with the expedition, said the rescue effort was unmatched in the climbing world, with the team ascending 1,200 metres in complete darkness along a treacherous route without a fixed rope.
The rescue team were part of a Polish expedition seeking to become the first mountaineers to summit K2 in winter when good climbing days are rare and storms can send temperatures plummeting.
The team was evacuated by helicopter after a five and a half hour descent down the mountain to Nanga Parbat’s Camp One early Sunday.
Revol was later flown to Islamabad and hospitalised with reports of “severe frostbite on her hands and feet.”
Nanga Parbat, in northern Pakistan, is the world’s ninth-highest mountain at 8,125 metres.
It earned the nickname “killer mountain” after more than 30 climbers died trying to climb it before the first successful summit in 1953.
In July last year, a Spaniard and an Argentinian were presumed dead after they went missing while trying to summit Nanga Parbat.
The first winter ascent of the mountain was only managed in 2016. K2 remains the only “8000er” yet to be conquered in winter.