“Leonardo Comelli, 27, an Italian alpinist lost his life on Thursday while making a ski descent from the 6,096-metres high Laila Peak,” Karrar Haideri, spokesman of the Alpine Club of Pakistan told AFP.
The alpinist had been a member of a four-person team that arrived in the Karakoram range in late May to summit the peak but were forced this week to retreat just 150 metres below the top due to bad weather, according to the club.
Haideri said the team then began the first attempt to ski down Laila Peak when Comelli crossed his skis and lost his balance, falling 400 metres down rugged terrain to his death.
The other three members of the team were safely able to retrieve the body and ski down the mountain. According to the Alpine Club, Comelli started rock climbing at 16 and was also a photographer.
Northern Pakistan is a magnet for mountaineers and is home to some of the tallest mountains in the world, including K2 — at 8,611 metres, the world’s second highest peak, but often deemed a more challenging climb than the highest, Mount Everest.
Nestled between the western end of the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush mountains and the Karakoram range, Gilgit-Baltistan houses 18 of the world’s 50 highest peaks.
It is also home to three of the world’s seven longest glaciers outside the polar regions. Hundreds of its mountains have never been climbed.