K2, which is also known as Mount Godwin-Austen or Chogori, is the highest mountain peak in Pakistan. The height of K2 mountains is 8,611 meters (28,251 ft) above sea level, It is the second highest mountain in the world whereas the Mount Everest is the first one which is located in Nepal and its height is 8,848 meters (29,029 ft).

K2 world’s second highest Peak. Photo: National Geographic

K2 lies in the northwestern Karakoram Mountain Range. It is located in the Baltistan region of Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan, and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. K2 is the highest point of the Karakoram mountain range and the highest point in both the countries Pakistan and China.

Mount Everest is much easier to climb as compared to K2. It is one of the most difficult task to ascent K2 that is why people call “the Savage Mountain”. Its a wish of every mountaineer to climb this mountain but very few have been successful. Some people have lost their lives in the expedition to ascent K2. This savage mountain has the second highest fatality rate among the eight-thousanders (mountains that are more than 8,000 meters (26,247 ft) in height above sea level, and are considered to be sufficiently independent from neighbouring peaks), with around 300 successful summits and 77 fatalities. It is said that about one person dies on the mountain for every four who reach the summit of K2.

From the Chinese side, K2 is way more tougher to climb so most of the people climb it from the Pakistan’s side. So far no one has dared to climb K2 in the winter because of the extreme weather conditions. Most of the expeditions are done in July-August when the weather is warmer.

Chinese side of K2, its quite difficult to summit K2 from here. Photo: High Adventure

In 1856, an European team, surveyed the mountain for the first time and designated it as K2 for being the second peak of the Karakoram Range. The other peaks near to K2 in the Karakorum range were originally named as K1, K3, K4, and K5, but were eventually renamed Masherbrum, Gasherbrum IV, Gasherbrum II, and Gasherbrum I, respectively.

The first attempt to climb K2 was undertaken in 1902 by Oscar Eckenstein, Aleister Crowley, Jules Jacot-Guillarmod, Heinrich Pfannl, Victor Wessely, and Guy Knowles via the Northeast Ridge. They managed to reach the height of 6,525 metres (21,407 ft) but due to the extreme weather conditions and lack of mondern equipement they were unable to go further.

The next attempt on K2 was not made until 1938. In 1953 Charles Houston, 1953 American expedition made a attempt to climb the mountain with his team but they also ended up in failure after a storm pinned down the team for 10 days at 7,800 metres (25,590 ft).

Latter in 1954 an Italian Karakoram expedition succeeded in ascending to the summit via the Abruzzi Spur on 31 July 1954. The expedition was led by Ardito Desio, and the two mountain climbers who were able to reach the summit were Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni.

Compagnoni (left) and Lacedelli, frostbitten on their return from the summit of K2 in 1954. Photo: Conefrey, Mick

On 9 August 1977, an Italian expedition, led by Ichiro Yoshizawa made successful ascent, with Ashraf Aman, the first Pakistani to summit K2.

Ashraf Aman, the first Pakistani to summit K2 in August 1977. Photo: Pak Peaks

On 23 June 1986, Wanda Rutkiewicz, a polish climber became the first woman to summit K2.

Wanda Rutkiewicz, the first woman to summit K2. Photo: Wikipedia
Wanda Rutkiewicz at K2 basecamp 1986, Photo: Jottnar

On 22 July 2018, Andrzej Bargiel, Polish mountaineer and mountain runner became first person to ski down from summit to base camp. The video footage is shared below.

All those who are unable to make it back alive from this deadliest mountain, there is a Gilkey Memorial dedicated for those people at the base camp of K2. During the 1953 American expedition when the storm pinned down the entire team, the climber Art Gilkey became critically ill. A desperate retreat followed, during which Pete Schoening saved almost the entire team in a mass fall (known simply as The Belay), and Gilkey was killed, either in an avalanche or in a deliberate attempt to avoid burdening his companions. His death is still a mystery, God know what happened. On the team’s descent to Base Camp, a memorial cairn was erected to Art Gilkey, and a service was held. Since then “The Gilkey Memorial” has become the burial place of other climbers who have died on K2, as well as a memorial to those whose bodies have not been found. May God rest the departed soul’s in eternal peace.

For some people mountain lovers might be the crazy people but for us, this is paradise. Being surrounded by the mountains and nature give us a feeling of inner peace, love and happiness. The harder the journey becomes, the tougher we become. It help us think clearly and focused on our goal. You not only enjoy the journey and nature around you but also become physically and mentally fit.

BBC Four Documentary on K2, The Savage Mountain


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