Derby

Tom Ballard: Recovery of climbers' bodies 'possible'

Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi Image copyright Daniele Nardi
Image caption Tom Ballard (left) and Daniele Nardi last made contact with their team two weeks ago

A senior diplomat has said the recovery of the bodies of two climbers who died on a mountain in Pakistan is "possible" but "dangerous".

Briton Tom Ballard and Italian Daniele Nardi were confirmed dead after "silhouettes" spotted on Nanga Parbat were identified as the mountaineers.

Stefano Pontecorvo, the Italian ambassador to Pakistan, said meetings are due to be held with the families.

It is thought the men may have been killed in a "huge avalanche".

Mr Ballard, 30, and Mr Nardi, 42, last made contact with their team at base camp on 24 February as they tried to reach the summit of Nanga Parbat - the world's ninth highest mountain.

Rescue attempts were delayed due to the weather and tensions between Pakistan and India.

Image copyright Tom Ballard
Image caption Tom Ballard dedicated his life to climbing, say his friends

Spanish climber Alex Txikon later found the bodies on the Mummery Spur trail, at about 5,900m (19,356ft), after spotting two "silhouettes" using a high-definition telescope.

Mr Pontecorvo published footage on Instagram showing two figures close together on a small patch of snow surrounded by jagged rocks.

He said the bodies will be difficult to reach but everything possible would be done to try and recover them.

"I am told by the escorts it is possible [to recover the bodies], there is a technique called the 'long line technique', which they can use in this case," he told BBC Radio Derby.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Alison Hargreaves was the first woman to climb Everest unaided

Mr Ballard, originally from Belper in Derbyshire, is the son of Alison Hargreaves, who died descending from the summit of K2 in 1995 - the same year she became the first woman to conquer Everest unaided.

Before her death, he had moved to Fort William in Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands with his sister Kate and father Jim.

Kate Ballard, who thanked people for their support, said on Facebook: "Tom and Daniele's bodies will remain with their mountain. Their souls have moved on.

"Tom - Be with Mum."

Image copyright Tom Ballard
Image caption Tom Ballard, from Derbyshire, moved to Fort William in Lochaber in 1995

Steve Wakeford, a friend of Tom Ballard, said the climber had been "at the top of his game" and dedicated his life to mountaineering.

"[His mother's death] would have had a huge effect on him, but he wasn't desperately trying to tread in her footsteps, it was his own pursuit.

"He was extremely humble, kind, mild-mannered and wise beyond his years. He died in pursuit of his dreams."

Follow BBC East Midlands on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Send your story ideas to eastmidsnews@bbc.co.uk.

More on this story