Legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner described K2 as “the mountain of mountains” after completing the fourth ascent of the peak in 1979. “It is the most beautiful of all the high peaks,” he continued. “An artist has made this mountain.” With Pakistan to its South and China to the North, K2 rises majestically in the Karakoram Mountains. Here are some of the interesting facts for you:
- With the height of 8611 meters, K2 is the 2nd highest peak in the world after the Mount Everest, which has the height of 8848 meters. It is also one of the elite members of 8000 club. There are only 14 mountains in the world which are over 8000 m.
- In 1856 Thomas George Montgomerie, a British officer working for the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India climbed a small mountain in Kashmir. He spotted two prominent peaks over 200km away in the Karakoram and named them K1 and K2, the ‘K’ standing for Karakoram. K1 was renamed Masherbrum which was its local name. However, K2 appeared not to have a local name, possibly due to its remoteness. And therefore the temporary name was made permanent. Had Montgomerie known that he was naming the seco0nd highest mountain in the world, I guess he would have put a little more thought in it.
- Another name more commonly used is Chogori, derived from two Balti words, chhogo (big) and ri (mountain).
K2 is also was referred as “Savage Mountain” by the famous American Climber George Bell. He referred it savage because of its difficult terrain. When asked about his experience for making an attempt to climb the K2, he said- It’s a savage mountain that tries to kill you.
- When talking about how savage the mountain is, among the eight-thousanders K2 has the 2nd highest fatality rate with one death for every four successful ascents (first being the Annapurna (191 summits and 61 fatalities). The peak climbers say that it is due to the extreme difficulty of ascent.
- K2 is also the only eight-thousander to have never been climbed in winter.
- The first serious attempt to climb K2 was made in 1902 by Oscar Eckenstein, Aleister Crowley, Jules Jacot, Victo Wessely and Guy Knowles. They spent 68 days on K2 and reached a maximum altitude of 6,525m
- The 1st successful ascent to the K2 summit was made by an Italian expedition on 31 July 1954. Ardito Desio led the expedition and the 2 climbers who reached the summit were- Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli. As of June 2019, only 379 people had reached the summit of K2.
- In 2004, 65-year-old Spanish climber Carlos Soria Fontán became the oldest person to summit K2.
The first woman to summit K2 was Polish climber Wanda Rutkiewicz.
An Austrian climber, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, became the 1st woman to climb all 14 eight-thousanders after reaching the summit of K2 on 23 August 2011. She did the job without any supplementary Oxygen.
- The most deadly climbing season on K2 was 1986. A total of 13 climbers died in separate incidents spanning two weeks. The incident is referred as 1986 K2 Disaster.
- In the year 1953, during an American attempt to climb K2, several climbers were saved from death with ropes and an ice axe. The ice axe is on display in a Colorado museum.
Have you read Neeraj Narayanan’s book – This Guy’s On His Own Trip yet? It’s right now #1 bestseller in the travel books category on Amazon. Click here to buy your copy!