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.
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
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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