WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Hopes of finding two Polish mountaineers who disappeared in the Himalayas after scaling a peak of more than 26,000 feet (8,000 meters) are quickly fading, an official said Wednesday.
The two were part of a group of four Poles who on Tuesday completed what other Polish climbers say is the first-ever winter ascent of Broad Peak, the world's 12th highest mountain, which is located in Pakistan.
Contact was lost early Wednesday with two of the four, Maciej Berbeka and Tomasz Kowalski, and by nightfall they had still not returned to a camp at 24,300 feet (7,400 meters), said Artur Hajzer, a Polish mountaineering official.
"The chances are falling dramatically and we are full of anxiety. Hope is fading," Hajzer said on news station TVN24. He said a Pakistani climber went up looking for the Poles in minus 35 degrees Celsius (minus 31 Fahrenheit) temperatures but found no sign of them despite clear visibility.
Hajzer also said time was running out because a snowstorm was expected Thursday. The two other men, Adam Bielecki and Artur Malek, safely reached a camp below the peak, Hajzer said. He added that Malek and a Pakistani climber would spend another night at the camp in the chance that the missing two would arrive.
The disappearance of the men was top news Wednesday in Poland, where people are proud of a tradition of Polish mountaineers scaling peaks in the Himalayas.