Mount K2 (8611m) is the second highest mountain in the world. It is located in the Karakorum segment of the Himalayas, on the border between the northern territories administered by Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan and the Xinjiang autonomous Tajik circle in China. Those who board the K2 8611m, however, need access through Pakistan because the Chinese side is inaccessible. The K2 is one of the toughest 8000s and the only one of the 14 8000s that has never been climbed in winter.
Strong and very cold winds make the K2 in addition to the technical difficulty to a real and hard expedition.
The K2 has other names: Chogori and Mount Goldwin Austen.
There are a number of routes to the K2 whose character is always different. But they all have common major difficulties:
1) The extreme altitude and the resulting lack of oxygen: In fact, a climber has only one-third as much oxygen available at the summit of the K2 as at sea level
2) At K2, there are often extreme storms lasting several days, leading to many deaths on the summit
3) The steep, exposed routes on the mountain, making it difficult to retreat, especially in stormy weather. Despite many attempts, there was no successful ascent in winter.
Routes on the K2
1) Abruzzo spur
The standard route of the ascent, which is used far more than any other route, is the Abruzzo spur that Luigi Amedeo, Duke of Abruzzo, first undertook in 1909. This is the southeast ridge of the summit that rises above the Godwin Austen Glacier. The actual spur begins at an altitude of 5,400 m, where normally Advanced Base Camp is set up. The route follows an alternate series of rock ridges, snow / ice fields and some technical climbing tours with the two famous features “House’s Chimney” and “Black Pyramid”.
Above the Black Pyramid, dangerous exposed and hard-to-drive slopes lead the easily visible “shoulder” and from there to the summit. The last major obstacle is a narrow couloir known as “Bottleneck”. Here the climbers are placed dangerously close to a Seracs wall, which forms an ice ridge to the east of the summit.
2) North ridge
Near the Abruzzi spur lies the north ridge, which climbs the Chinese side of the summit. It is rarely committed, in part because of the very difficult access, with the Shaksgam River must be crossed. This is a very dangerous endeavor.
The north ridge is technically more difficult than the Abruzzo spur and leads over a long, steep, predominantly rocky ridge (Camp IV, “Eagle’s Nest”, 7,900 m) and then crosses a dangerously slip-prone hanging glacier through a traverse to the left, then a snow couloir to reach the summit.
In addition to the original Japanese ascent in 1990, the ascent on the north ridge of Greg Child, Greg Mortimer and Steve Swenson was a remarkable climb carried out in alpine style (though some, fixed ropes already pre-installed by previous crews) were used.
3) Other routes
- Northeast ridge: long and persistently severe; goes in the upper part in the Abruzzo route, 1978 first.
- Westgrat, 1981 first.
- Southwest pier or “Magic Line”: very technical and in the second half even more demanding, first committed in 1986 by the Polish-Slovak trio Piasecki-Wroz-Bozik. Despite many attempts, he did not find his repeat until 2004, when Jordi Corominas did.
- South Face or “Polish Line”: extremely exposed and most dangerous of all routes, first and only uniquely owned by Jerzy Kukuczka and Tadeusz Piotrowski in 1986. No repetition since then, Reinhold Messner called the route a suicidal route.
- Northwest Wall, first opened in 1990.
- Northwest Degree: At the end, cross into the north ridge, first ascent in 1991
- South Spur or “Cesen Route”: at the end, enter the Abruzzo route; a possibly safer alternative than the Abruzzo route) 1994 first
- West face: technical difficulty at high altitude, first time in 2007
The tour outlined here includes travel to and with Basecamp. Likewise the accommodation in the Basecamp. Thus, the mountain can be climbed in alpine style, so autonomous.
Of course it is possible to climb the mountain guided by a guide, with all the planning on the mountain itself, so all camps, catering, group material, etc. For more details, booking options and costs see “Services Optional: Full Service”.
Entire Organisation made by HÖHENBERGSTEIGEN and our very experienced partner Hunza Guides Pakistan. Pro climbers such as Simone Moro, Denis Urubko, David Lama trust and travel with our partner! Highest quality while on the mountain and intense experience = your safety!