Islamabad - A Pakistani Army helicopter rescued on Tuesday four Italian and two Pakistani climbers stranded at an altitude of around 5,300 metres (17,390 feet) in the country’s north, after an avalanche struck the team the previous day, a mountaineering worker said. A Pakistani member of the team

was killed.

The expedition was hit while descending a peak in the Ishkoman Valley, located in the northern district of Ghizer.

Karrar Haidri, head of Pakistan’s Alpine Club, told newsmen that the six surviving climbers had been lifted to a hospital in the nearby town of Gilgit for the treatment of injuries. “Sadly, one Pakistani mountaineer was killed, but six other members of the expedition are being treated at a hospital,” he said.

“A Pakistan Army helicopter was used for this complicated but successful rescue operation, despite the fact that the stranded mountaineers were present at an altitude of around 5,300 metres,” he added.

Ashraf Aman, a Pakistani tour operator who arranged the expedition, confirmed that Pakistan’s military had dispatched the helicopter earlier on Tuesday morning to rescue the climbers. He said the body of the Pakistani mountaineer, Mohammad Imtiaz, would be brought down later.

Aman said none of the surviving team had life threatening injuries.

The four Italian climbers involved are expedition leader Tarcisio Bello, Luca Morellato, David Bergamin and Tino Toldo.

In a separate incident on Monday, two Chinese mountaineers were reported missing in another area in northern Pakistan, said Haidri. He said a rescue mission was planned to find them.

Mountaineers from across the world travel to Pakistan every year to try scaling its high northern mountains. Harsh weather and conditions often prove a test for the most experienced of climbers.

Earlier this year, two European climbers – Italian Daniele Nardi and Briton Tom Ballard — were killed during bad winter weather on Nanga Parbat, which is the world’s ninth-tallest mountain at 8,126 metres (26,660 feet).

Nardi, from near Rome, had attempted to scale the peak in winter several times. Ballard’s disappearance hit his homeland particularly hard as he is the son of Alison Hargreaves, the first woman to scale Mount Everest alone.

Leading up to the avalanche, Tarcisio Bellò shared regular updates on social media about the group’s progress climbing Lions Melvin Jones Peak. Bellò posted pictures of yak herds and several of the climbers scaling slabs of rock. The team had snowball fights and learned words in local Pakistani languages. The guide who died spoke to the group about the dangers of altitude sickness, telling the story of a client who had recently died on a trek.

But as the group got closer to the summit, Bellò remarked on the constant snowfall — an estimated 20 inches one day. In his last update, posted a few days before the avalanche struck, he stressed the importance of waiting for the right conditions before making a final push to the top.

“If the window of good weather ends, everything becomes complicated,” he wrote. “Hopefully all goes well. Inshallah.”