Body of Maurice Barrard Found on K2
Frenchman Was One Of 13 Climbers To Die On The Mountain in 1986
Friday, July 17, 1998

K2, Pakistan
(photo: Art Wolfe)

A US expedition attempting to climb K2 (28,250') in Pakistan reported on the Web ( that on July 11, 1998 they found a body they believe to be that of French climber Maurice Barrard. Missing since 1986, when he and 12 other people died on the second highest mountain in the world, Barrard was found just above base camp (16,700'), half frozen into the ice of the Godwin-Austen Glacier.

In the summer of 1986, nine expeditions attempted K2; 27 climbers reached the summit, two new routes were established, and 13 people lost their lives. (The story, legendary in climbing lore, is detailed in Jim Curran's book, K2: Triumph & Tragedy.) Among the dead were Barrard and his wife Lilian who had summitted along with another French climber, Michel Parmentier, and a Polish climber, Wanda Rutkiewicz, making Lilian Barrard and Wanda Rutkiewicz the first women to climb K2. The four separated on the descent, and the Barrards disappeared. Parmentier, who had stayed in high camp for two days waiting for them, finally had to descend in a storm with climbers from base camp guiding him toward the fixed lines by radio. Lilian's body was found 10,000 feet below on the Godwin-Austen Glacier, but Maurice remained missing until now.

Expedition leader Heidi Howkins wrote, "a tangled mess of clothing lay in a pool of ice water several feet away, with a dark hand protruding from a bright turquoise-and-fuchsia sleeve. Five fingers, five fingernails intact. The wisps of wavy hair, the half-smashed skull with half a mouthful of teeth and one eye socket. The carabiner clipped to a loop of rope around the neck... The body... is definitely male, with European clothing and European-style dental fillings. There were bits of clothing spread in a 60-meter radius around the body. One of the shirts was silk-screened with the name Maurice. And so, after 12 years, we believe the glacier has chosen to disgorge Maurice Barrard's body." The US climbers moved Barrard's body down to base camp, and if given consent by the family, will bury him near Liliane at the Gilkey Memorial.

Howkins is currently on K2 in an attempt to become the first American woman to summit the mountain commonly believed to be a more difficult climb than Everest. Her expedition is currently setting up camps on the Abruzzi Ridge route.

Anya Zolotusky, Mountain Zone Staff