Highlands & Islands

Tom Ballard: Friend's hope for missing climber

Tom Ballard Eiger Image copyright Tom Ballard
Image caption Tom Ballard grew up in Fort William after his family moved to Scotland in 1995

A friend of one of two climbers missing on one of the world's highest peaks says he is optimistic of them being found alive.

Tom Ballard, 30, and Italian Daniele Nardi last made contact on Sunday, from an altitude of about 6,300m (20,669ft) on Nanga Parbat in Pakistan.

Mr Ballard, who grew up in the Highlands, is the son of Alison Hargreaves, who died on K2 in 1995.

Friend Ian Sykes said Mr Ballard was a talented and experienced climber.

Originally from Derbyshire, Mr Ballard and his family moved to Fort William in Lochaber in 1995.

In the same year his mother became the first woman to conquer Everest unaided but later died on K2.

Image copyright ISPR

Mr Ballard continued to base himself in Fort William until his 20s and established new climbing routes on Lochaber's mountains.

In 2015, the experienced climber became the first person to solo climb all six major north faces of the Alps in one winter.

'Mountaineering family'

Bad weather and tensions between Pakistan and India had delayed searches for the missing climbers.

A tent "invaded by snow" was spotted during a search involving a Pakistani army helicopter.

Image copyright ISPR
Image caption A tent "invaded by snow" was spotted during a search involving a Pakistani army helicopter
Image copyright Tom Ballard
Image caption A search operation for Mr Ballard and Daniele Nardi had been delayed amid tensions between Pakistan and India

Family friend Mr Sykes, a climber and founder of the Nevis Range snowsports centre near Fort William, told BBC Scotland he was optimistic that the missing mountaineers would be found alive.

He said Mr Ballard's family moved to the Highlands to help with his mother's climbing training. The family, including Mr Ballard's sister Kate and their father Jim, also skied and climbed in the area.

Mr Skyes said: "They are very much a mountaineering family.

"The kids were better skiers when they were three year olds than I am now.

"Tom learned to ski from an early age and has been a climber from the cot upwards.

"I guess he must have been in his early 20s when he left Fort William and some of the climbs he put up around here have never been repeated."

Mr Sykes said Mr Ballard and other climbers, are well aware of the risks of their sport, especially at the pursuit's highest levels.

He added: "It must have been very tough for the kids growing up without their mum and I hope to God things are going to be ok in this case. It is very worrying."

Related Topics

More on this story