Maciej Berbeka (L) and Tomasz Kowalski: photo - PAP/Adam Bielecki and Bartłomiej Zborowski
In March this year, Adam Bielecki, Arter Malek, Tomasz Kowalski and Maciej Berberka were the first ever climbers to reach the top of the world’s twelfth highest peak during the winter season.
However, during the descent, Tomasz Kowalski and Maciej Berberka went missing and were presumed dead after they did not reach Camp 4.
The Polish Mountaineering Association report also blames poor communication and that the mountaineers should not have separated during their descent of the 8,051-metre peak.
While the expedition was well prepared, the report also finds that errors were made while attempting to scale the mountain.
Prior to the final attack on Broad Peak, the report states that the mountaineers did not discuss tactics on how to attempt the climb, nor did the team members decide on when to come back down: possibly due to the fact that the report states that there was no decision taken on leadership of the group.
During the descent, meanwhile, the report states that Artur Malek and Adam Bielecki were wrong to leave the remaining team members, Tomasz Kowalski and Maciej Berberka. According to the report, Adam Bielecki did not tell his team mates that he had no intention of making the descent with the rest of the group.
The expert group involved in drafting the report states that Bielecki and Malek broke ethical norms and mountaineering practice, as well as not adhering to a rule which states that eye contact must remain between all members of the team.
Climber Adam Bielecki was also criticised for leaving Camp 4 before the rescue mission was completed.
The expedition manager Krzysztof Wielicki was praised by the report for handling the rescue proceedings properly. The report also highlights climber Artur Malek’s positive attitude and his own decision to wait at Camp 4 for the return of Tomasz Kowalski and Maciej Berberka.
The committee which investigated the tragedy was set up in April by the Polish Mountaineering Association, and called upon a number of experts in the field to evaluate the expedition.
Bielecki becomes expedition black sheep?
Meanwhile, one of the climbers who was blamed by the report for not acting in a proper manner has claimed that he has been singled out unfairly.
“I have become a scapegoat,” mountaineer Adam Bielecki told Tygodnik Powszechny, a liberal Catholic weekly, after finding out the verdict of the investigation committee.
“I believe that I have become a victim of this ‘Polish hell’, which is why I’m thinking about moving to the West,” Bielecki told the weekly. (jb)
More stories on the Broad Peak tragedy can be found here.