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K2 Expedition | The second-highest mountain

North Ridge - The north side of K2

North Ridge - The north side of K2

K2 the second-highest mountain

Altitude 8616m

To the mountaineer, K2 can be regarded as the ‘mountain of mountains’. Its allure arises from the combination of its isolation, extremes of weather, great altitude and technical climbing demands; K2 is a very serious and compelling objective. Our challenging route takes us onto the well documented Abruzzi Spur. This is one of six fine ridges that form a classical summit pyramid of rock and ice.

Other names: Mount Godwin-Austen or Chogori or Dapsang
Altitude: 8611 m
Location: China / Pakistan
First ascent: July 31, 1954 by Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli

K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth, after Mount Everest. With a peak elevation of 8,611 m (28,251 feet), K2 is part of the Karakoram Range, and is located on the border between Gilgit, in Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China.

It is more hazardous to reach K2 from the Chinese side thus, it is mostly climbed from the Pakistani side.

K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the difficulty of ascent and the second-highest fatality rate among the “eight thousanders” for those who climb it. For every four people who have reached the summit, one has died trying. Unlike Annapurna, the mountain with the highest fatality rate, K2 has never been climbed in winter.

Map of K2 routes - Mountain expedition

Map of K2 routes - Mountain expedition

From : Adventure stats

The peak has now been climbed by almost all of its ridges. Although the summit of Everest is at a higher altitude, K2 is a much more difficult and dangerous climb, due in part to its more inclement weather and comparatively greater height from base to peak. The mountain is believed by many to be the world’s most difficult and dangerous climb, hence its nickname “the Savage Mountain.” It, and the surrounding peaks, have claimed more lives than any others. As of July 2010, only 302 people have completed the ascent, compared with over 2,700 individuals who have ascended the more popular target of Everest. At least 80 (as of September 2010) people have died attempting the climb. Notably, 13 climbers from several expeditions died in 1986 in the 1986 K2 Disaster, five of these in a severe storm.

More recently, on August 1, 2008, a group of climbers went missing after a large piece of ice fell during an avalanche taking out the fixed ropes on part of the route; four climbers were rescued, but 11, including Gerard McDonnell, the first Irish person to reach the summit, were confirmed dead. On August 6, 2010, Fredrik Ericsson, who intended to ski from the summit, joined Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner on the way to the summit of K2. Ericsson fell 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) and was killed. Kaltenbrunner aborted her summit attempt.

K2 south routes - Mountain expedition

K2 south routes - Mountain expedition

The major routes to have been climbed on the south side of the mountain.

  • A: West Ridge
  • B: West Face
  • C: Southwest Pillar
  • D: South Face
  • E: South-southeast Spur
  • F: Abruzzi Spur

Almost opposite from the Abruzzi Spur is the North Ridge, which ascends the Chinese side of the peak. It is rarely climbed, partly due to very difficult access, involving crossing the Shaksgam River, which is a hazardous undertaking. In contrast to the crowds of climbers and trekkers at the Abruzzi basecamp, usually at most two teams are encamped below the North Ridge. This route, more technically difficult than the Abruzzi, ascends a long, steep, primarily rock ridge to high on the mountain — Camp IV, the “Eagle’s Nest” at 7,900 metres (25,900 ft) — and then crosses a dangerously slide-prone hanging glacier by a leftward climbing traverse, to reach a snow couloir which accesses the summit.

Besides the original Japanese ascent, a notable ascent of the North Ridge was the one in 1990 by Greg Child, Greg Mortimer, and Steve Swenson, which was done alpine style above Camp 2, though using some fixed ropes already put in place by a Japanese team.

For most of its climbing history, K2 was not usually climbed with bottled oxygen, and small, relatively lightweight teams were the norm. However the 2004 season saw a great increase in the use of oxygen: 28 of 47 summiteers used oxygen in that year.

Acclimatisation is essential when climbing without oxygen to avoid some degree of altitude sickness. K2’s summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) can occur, above the 8000-metre altitude that marks the boundary of the “death zone.”

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