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  Father and Son Killed in K2 Avalanche

30 July 2013

Here is a friend's tribute to the news that father and son climbers, Marty & Denali Schmidt were swept away by an avalanche on the K2 mountain in Pakistan earlier this week.  A link to a news article is posted below.


K2 tragedy...
For nearly four years I've sent out Marty's dispatches... and today I have to send out the one that I dreaded most. It is with great sadness that I have to let you know that both Marty and Denali have been killed in an avalanche on K2.

I've been away for a week and before I left, Marty asked me to make sure somebody else would be able to receive news from him during my absence. He sent my colleague two texts last week and when I came in the office today I was keen to get those out to you. I secretly hoped for a call from the summit soon as Marty had indicated that they might aim for a final push on the 28th or 29th. In his messages Marty referred to bad weather and heavy snowfall and how they were planning to climb to Camp 3 on the 26th of July to assess the situation to see if they could carry on. He also expressed his excitement, again, to form the first father and son team to reach the summit of K2

Before I could share these messages with you, news started to trickle through about Marty and Denali missing on the mountain. We spent the afternoon trying to get a clearer picture of what happened, as I was reluctant to base any information on snippets that quickly spread over the internet. With all his experience and skills the rumours simply couldn't be true. But eventually I managed to talk to Chris Warner at K2 BC and he confirmed that on the 26th of July Marty and Denali decided to climb from Camp 2 to Camp 3, while the other climbers on the mountain opted to abandon their attempts and return to BC. Chris was in contact with Marty and Denali before nightfall, but couldn't establish contact on the 27th.

Eventually two Sherpa climbers went up to look for Marty and Denali and when one of them made it to Camp 3 he saw that the camp had been hit by a large avalanche. He found crampons and ice axes belonging to Marty and Denali, indicating that they probably weren't climbing when the avalanche struck. Chris told me they were most likely hit during their sleep and have been buried under the snow.

There will be no further search parties going up. The conditions are too dangerous and all activity on K2 has been suspended.

We all know that mountaineering comes with risks, especially at high altitude, but somehow Marty seemed 'invincible'. Everybody he climbed with praised his decision making skills, his dedication to safety and his ability to enthuse and inspire those around him. Whenever Marty walked into the office here at Macpac, there was energy in the air. He loved talking gear and discussing potential improvements, and he couldn't stop telling us how cool the kit was that we gave him. He loved sharing his past and upcoming adventures with us. And he sure loved playing a quick game of table tennis in the staff room with more energy you can wave a stick at. Energy...

I also remember sitting down with Marty to discuss some sponsorship details ages ago and he managed to down one and a half jug of coffee... all by himself. It didn't seem to bother him one bit! More recently I questioned him why he didn't want the coffee I offered him, and he simply replied that he had been climbing with a client who didn't like coffee, which made him realise he didn't need it either. So he just stopped drinking coffee. Willpower...

When Marty was asked to do a presentation on his incredible ascents of Makalu, G1 and G2 we spent several evenings together sifting through thousands of photos while yapping away about climbing, family, life... anything really. We stayed up very late and Marty just couldn't stop telling me cool stories and I couldn't stop listening. Inspirational...

I could go on and on, sharing random thoughts about a very dear friend of mine. A dear friend who I will miss very much (including the bear-hugs I got from him every time he returned from a trip).

Marty was incredibly proud to climb together with Denali and share his passion for the mountains with him - I was looking forward to meeting Denali one day here in New Zealand. Instead we have to come to grips with this enormous tragedy. I wish everybody who knew Marty and/or Denali strength to deal with this loss. There's no doubt in my mind that they both want us to continue to enjoy the beautiful mountains and pursue great adventures. The next time I'm heading out there, I'll be thinking of you guys.





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