British climber Adrian Hayes has reported today from K2 Base Camp that Marty Schmidt and his son Denali Schmidt have been killed in an avalanche at Camp 3 on the South East Ridge (Abruzzi Spur) of K2 in Pakistan.
“K2 Update - Tragedy discovered at Camp 3 as avalanche kills New Zealanders. Our fears on the fate of New Zealand mountain guide Marty Schmidt (53) and his son Denali (25) – who climbed up from Camp 2 to Camp 3 last Friday as we all returned to Base Camp due to the dangerous snow conditions - was sadly confirmed last night when two of our Sherpas reached Camp 3 to find it wiped out by an avalanche. As Marty’s last radio communication took place Friday night from the camp, the avalanche almost certainly occurred that night as they slept in their tent.
The deaths of a father and son is a tragedy in itself but compounded even further by the fact that Marty and Denali (pictured climbing to Camp 2 last Thursday) - who were great people that we all got to know very well in the close knit community of K2 Base Camp - were very well known, highly experienced and extremely strong mountaineers, the last people many would expect to be killed on a mountain.
Sadly, at times the mountains do not differentiate between ability and experience, least of all K2. The poignancy of the tragedy is not lost in that, had the rest of us not turned back that day - including Marty and Denali’s Australian team mate Chris Warner - we also all would have been sleeping at Camp 3 when the avalanche struck.
In mountaineering, there is often a very thin line between life and death and here was yet one more occasion. 6 teams came down and are alive and well, one team went up and are tragically dead. On behalf of all of us remaining at Base Camp, our sincerest condolences to their family and may Marty and Denali rest in peace. Posted with the full co-operation and agreement of Chris Warner.”
More details will emerge in the coming days and tributes to Marty’s extraordinary character and achievements will follow. Right now, our thoughts are with the friends and family who have suffered a tremendous loss.