Mount Elbrus: photo - wikipedia
“A seven-man search team has been on the trail since dawn,” said Murat Apazikov, a spokesman for the rescue operation in the tiny Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, a part of the Russian Federation.
The search, which is being supported by Russia's Emergencies Ministry, was launched on Saturday, and although two abandoned backpacks were discovered on that day, bad weather prevented the team from operating on Sunday and Monday.
Pawel Gostinski, 23, and Iranian Ali-Atabi Sirelli were last heard from on 9 March, but family members only sounded the alarm on Friday.
The search goes on.
Broad Peak team says climbers did not ask for help
Meanwhile, the surviving members of the ill-fated Polish expedition to Broad Peak, on the border of China and Pakistan, say that at no point did their two doomed companions ask for help.
Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski failed to return to a camp at 7500m after making the first ever winter ascent of Broad Peak on 5 March.
Two other climbers who had also conquered the peak, Artur Malek and Adam Bielecki, returned individually to the camp.
The surviving team-members descended Broad Peak on 8 March, calculating that it was impossible that the two missing men could still be alive.
Speaking at a press conference in Warsaw on Tuesday, expedition leader Krzysztof Wielicki said that all four men seemed positive during the ascent.
“It was only in the descent, during conversations with Tomek [Kowalski], that I realised that something wasn't right,” Wielicki said, as cited by the Polish Press Agency (PAP).
Wielicki noted that Kowalski had initially communicated that he could see Berbeka walking in front of him.
During a later connection, Kowalski said that the two were sitting on a rock together.
“So I said: 'Pass me over to Maciek [Berbeka].' And Tomek responded: 'Maciek doesn't want to talk.' It was impossible for me to work out what was going on with them,” Wielicki said.
Wielicki believes that ultimately, Berbeka may have fallen through a crevice, and that Kowalski succumbed to altitude sickness. (nh)