Overview of K2 mountain
K2 comes second in the world’s highest peaks. It is located in Karakoram Range between a Chinese-administered enclave, part of the Kashmir region, and the Uygur region of Xinjiang, China. Part of it also lies in the Gilgit-Baltistan portion of Kashmir, which is part of the Pakistani administration.
The mountain reaches around 15,000 feet from top to bottom. It was discovered in 1856 by Col. T.G Montgomerie, Survey of India, and was given the K2 symbol. Due to its second placement in the list of peaks measured in the Karakoram Range.
Its distinctive name comes from the notation used by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of British India. It has also been known as the “Savage Mountain”; since George Bell used the term following an expedition in 1953. Bell almost slipped and fell to his death during a failed ascent. This made him describe the mountain as “savage” and that it ‘tries to kill you”. The name Mount Godwin Austen comes from the peak’s first surveyor, Col H.H. Godwin Austen, who was an English geographer in the 19th century.
Another name that is commonly used to refer to the mountains is Chogori. It derives from two Balti words: chhogo (meaning big) and ri (meaning mountain). There is a little confusion as to whether the name was created by western explorers. This comes from the question regarding the mountain’s name, as it is unlikely that many people would have experienced K2.
Why is K2 mountain considered as being the deadliest and most challenging climb?
One of the highest mountains in the world, surrounded by bad weather
The mountain is known for its extreme weather and severe storms. This makes the difficult climbing conditions much harder to accomplish. This is why it is naturally known as one of the world’s most difficult mountains to climb.
One of the main reasons this mountain is known for its difficulty to be climbed is the last 611m stretch of the mountain. This is known as “the death zone” and is above 8000m. It contains extremely thin air that is insufficient to sustain human life for more than a short while. Unless provided with the aid of supplementary oxygen. This is because only a third as much oxygen is available at the summit as there is at sea level.
People die and die often
If you look at the number of people who have reached the summit of Mount Everest and those of K2, the latter’s is only a tiny fraction of the former’s. However, fewer deaths have taken place on K2. However, the number of deaths that have taken place and the number of people that have attempted to climb K2 is much higher. In 2008, the deadliest K2 disaster in the history of K2 mountaineering occurred. 11 mountaineers died after an ice avalanche that swept away ropes close to the Bottleneck. However, the deadliest climbing season on K2 was in 1986. In total, 13 climbers died in separate and unrelated incidents in two weeks.
It has been noted that reaching the peak of K2 from the Chinese side can prove more difficult and hazardous. Hence why climbing it from the Pakistani side is highly recommended. There is also a base camp on the Pakistani side, where all the major climbing routes often begin.
It is estimated that around one in four K2 summiteers dies while on the mountain. This is a summit-to-death rate of roughly 25%.
First attempt to reach the summit
The first known attempt to reach K2’s summit was by an Anglo-Swiss expedition in 1902. The ascent was 18,600 feet over the northeastern crest of the peak. There have been other unsuccessful attempts, including a 1909 Italian expedition that Luigi Amedeo, Duke d’Abruzzi, led. They went through the southeastern ridge and managed to reach around 20,000 feet. The name of this ridge was later changed to Abruzzi.
In 1954, an Italian expedition, including one Pakistani man, conquered the mountain despite severe weather conditions.
The first winter ascent of K2 mountain, a Nepali achievement
On January 16th, 2021, a team of 10 Nepali climbers set out to climb K2. The climbers managed to reach the 28,251-foot summit of the second-highest mountain. K2 is the last on the list of good winter climbs of the 14 tallest mountains. First, this is because it is considered by far the most challenging and dangerous. This is because of the technical climbing you’d have to do to reach the top.
This was able to be achieved due to their teamwork. The expedition consisted of multiple teams: one led by Normal Purja and the other by Mingma G Sherpa. Days before the mountain’s last stretch, both teams decided they needed a strategy. And so they began fixing ropes to all reach the summit together successfully. According to a post made on social media by Nirmal Purja, the entire team waited just inches from the summit. Allowing them to reach it together at the same time, all while singing the Nepali national anthem.
Is the most dangerous mountain being tamed?
K2 has become an increasingly sought-after goal for many, as a few other 8,000-meter peaks succumbed to bad weather conditions. Despite the ongoing pandemic at the time, 60 people congregated at the base camp on Pakistan’s Godwin Austen Glacier. These included large commercial expeditions with 22 paying climbers and 27 Sherpa supporters. All of it is organized by Seven Summits Treks, a Nepali-guided service.
The mountain has become a sensation and a central talking point for movies, books, and documentaries. “The Summit” is a documentary film that tries to encapsulate the tragedy of 2008. It also appears in K2: Siren of the Himalayas and Vertical Limit.
2022 has seen over 190 summits as of late July, surpassing the previous year’s record of 62 (2018) by almost three times. More than 145 climbers summited K2 in 24 hours on July 22nd.