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Slovenian Alpinist Pavle Kozjek Missing on Muztagh Tower

Pavle Kozjek, as seen in “A Climber’s Tale,” Issue 6. It is reported that Kozjek fell through a cornice and is missing on Muztagh Tower (7284m), Karakoram, Pakistan; there remains hope that in the morning, a rescue attempt will be made. [Photo] Marko Prezelj

Renowned Slovenian alpinist Pavle Kozjek has been reported missing on the striking and seldom-climbed Muztagh Tower (7284m) in Pakistan’s Karakoram range.

Kozjek, Dejan Miskovic and Gregor Kresal had traveled to Pakistan to attempt a new route on the unclimbed 2200-meter north face in alpine style. On Monday, August 25, Miskovic phoned friends in Slovenia that he and Kozjek had set up a bivy tent somewhere on the mountain near a cornice. Kozjek had emerged from the tent and approached the cornice when he fell down the face. The exact details of the incident are unclear, and there remains hope that in the morning, a rescue attempt will be made.

Readers of Alpinist will be familiar with Kozjek from two articles: “A Climber’s Tale,” in Issue 6, in which he recounted his apprenticeship and evolution as a climber; and Issue 20’s “Borderline,” in which he wrote about the 2006 murder of the Tibetan nun Kelsang Namtso by Chinese soldiers (Kozjek was first to release photos of the murder to the media), followed by his solo first ascent on the southwest face of Tibet’s Cho Oyu (8201m). Many of his other climbs have been reported on, such as his new routes on Peru’s Chacraraju Oeste, Siula Grande, Trapecio and Puscanturpa. Early in his career Kozjek established his reputation with climbs such as the Devil’s Direttissima (ED+: VI 5.12a A4 WI5+, 1200m) on the east face of Cerro Torre (which he accomplished with the remarkably strong team of Francek Knez, Janez Jeglic, Slavc Sveticic and Silvo Karo) and the Slovenian Route on the south face of Shishapangma, which he climbed with legendary alpinist Andrej Stremfelj. As the introduction to “A Climber’s Tale” put it, if Kozjek were American, his would be a household name. More important, the good style Kozjek applies to his climbs is always complemented by the demeanor of a gentleman.

“There is no doubt he’s a good climber,” says Slovenian alpinist Marko Prezelj, “but as a person, he is even better. He’s a visionary, not a follower. But he is always positive, and always very nice. He inspires many young alpinists, and he manages to strike a balance between a commercial approach and a climber’s approach with dignity. He is very popular here in Slovenia.”

More news on Kozjek, Miskovic and Kresal will be reported as it becomes available.