The Gasherbrum-Broad Peak group seen from high on K2 to the north. Broad Peak (8047m), where Slovakian Vlado Plulik is missing and feared dead, is the rightmost sun-lit peak. Plulik went missing on the mountain after he and his partner, Jozef “Dodo” Kopold, separated to ascend different lines due to poor route conditions. [Photo] K2 Shared Summits Expedition [Photo] Russian Antarctica Expedition
Slovakian climber Vlado Plulik is missing and feared dead on Broad Peak (8047m), Karakoram, Pakistan. Despite extensive search efforts by Plulik’s partner, Jozef “Dodo” Kopold, and other climbers up to nearly 6500m, no trace of Plulik was found, and as of June 30, 2008, the search ended.
The two made an attempt on Gasherbrum II (8035m) on June 9, 2008, in which Kopold summited and Plulik did not. Both went on to summit Gasherbrum I (8068m) on June 15, 2008. The Slovaks intended to complete their Karakoram expedition by summiting both Broad Peak and K2 (8611m). “K2 should have been our main goal, which, however, required a longer period of good weather. Instead of waiting in BC we opted for a quick ascent of Broad Peak in alpine style,” Kopold explained.
The first climbers on Broad Peak this season, Plulik and Kopold reached their high cache at 7200m on June 25, 2008, where rough weather forced them to spend the night. Plulik separated from Kopold at approximately 8 a.m. the next morning for summit attempts via separate routes. “In the headwall, however, things were different–there was a lot of brittle ice, and rocks kept falling. It was dangerous to climb simultaneously. So Vlado [Plulik] sacrificed himself and decided to continue by normal route to the summit. We agreed to meet there and descent together.” When the two did not meet up on the summit, they were each forced to bivouac high on the peak: “Vlado–without a headlamp–decided to bivouac just under Rocky Summit. I made it to the summit and was forced to bivouac at 8000m under the summit ridge.” On the morning of June 27, Kopold followed Plulik’s footprints toward a Belarusian team’s Camp 1 at approximately 6500m. “In the morning, I struggled to find the way down… At 6500m I lost his trace. He didn’t come to C1 that night. Our friends from Belarus were waiting for him there. Vlado probably slipped on a steep ice slope and fell somewhere in the crevasses under the seracs,” Kopold said in a letter posted on the expedition website.
Plulik summited Everest in 1998 without the use of supplemental oxygen. In 2007, he summitted both Cho Oyu and Shishapangma (8013m). He is the second climbing partner in two years that Kopold has lost in the Himalayas. Last year, Kopold’s partner, Marek Hudak, was lost on Shishapangma when an avalanche wiped out the team’s Camp 2 (read the April 27, 2007 Newswire article).
Citing health reasons and rumors of unstable snow conditions on the mountain, Kopold has cancelled his attempt on K2 and has left Pakistan.
If more information about Plulik becomes available, it will be posted on Alpinist.com.