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A senior diplomat has said the search for Tom Ballard and his climbing partner Daniele Nardi on the world’s ninth-highest mountain will continue today, despite reports it had been called off.
The search was reported to have been called off yesterday after the rescue team had found no trace of Ballard or Nardi in their searches over the last week.
However, the Italian ambassador to Pakistan, Stefano Pontecorvo, told the press this morning that they are not at the point of calling off the search yet and rescuers have resumed their operations on Nanga Parbat, nicknamed ‘Killer Mountain’.
According to Daniele Nardi’s Facebook page, which is being updated by those close to the search operations, two silhouettes were reportedly spotted on the mountain through a telescope at base camp. There is now due to be another helicopter search of the mountain.
Ballard, 30, who grew up in Spean Bridge, has been missing since last Sunday, February 25, when he and Nardi last made contact with their team at base camp. The pair were attempting to reach the summit of the 8,126 metre (26,660 ft) peak, nicknamed ‘Killer Mountain’. They had reportedly made it to Camp 4 on the mountain and the last contact from them was at a height of 6,300 metres (nearly 20,700 ft).
Initial searches by helicopter detected a three-person tent “invaded by snow” in the area last Thursday but further searches over the weekend were foiled by bad weather. On Monday a helicopter was able to fly to 7,000m but nothing was seen.
Ballard is the son of mountaineer Alison Hargreaves who died, aged 33, while descending from the summit of K2 in 1995, the same year she became the first woman to conquer Mount Everest unaided. Earlier in 1995, the family, including Ballard’s sister Kate and father Jim, moved to Spean Bridge from Derbyshire.