Climbing history of k2

>> Thursday, January 7, 2010


Early attempts

The west face of K2 taken from the Savoia Glacier on the 1909 expedition The Mountain was first surveyed by a European survey team in 1856. Thomas Montgomerie was the member of the team who designated it "K2" for being the second peak of the Karakoram Range. The other peaks were originally named K1, K3, K4 and K5, but were eventually renamed Masherbrum, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum I respectively. In 1892, Martin Conway led a British expedition that reached 'Concordia' on the Baltoro Glacier.

The first serious attempt to climb K2 was undertaken in 1902 by Oscar Eckenstein and Aleister Crowley, via the Northeast Ridge. After five serious and costly attempts, the team could only reach up to 6,525 meters (21,407 ft).The failures are attributed to a combination of questionable physical training, personality conflicts, and poor weather conditions — of 68 days spent on K2 (at the time, the record for the longest time spent at such an altitude) only eight provided clear weather.

The next expedition to K2 in 1909, led by Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi, reached an elevation of around 6,250 meters (20,505 ft) on the South East Spur, now known as the Abruzzi Spur (or Abruzzi Ridge). This would eventually become part of the standard route, but was abandoned at the time due to its steepness and difficulty. After trying and failing to find a feasible alternative route on the West Ridge or the North East Ridge, the Duke declared that K2 would never be climbed, and the team switched its attention to Chogolisa, where the Duke came within 150 meters (492 ft) of the summit before being driven back by a storm.


K2 from the east, photographed during the 1909 expedition The next attempt on
K2 was not made until 1938, when an American expedition led by Charles Houston made a reconnaissance of the mountain. They concluded that the Abruzzi Spur was the most practical route, and reached a height of around 8,000 meters (26,247 ft) before turning back due to diminishing supplies and the threat of bad weather.[17][18] The following year an expedition led by Fritz Wiessner came within 200 meters (656 ft) of the summit, but ended in disaster when four climbers disappeared high on the mountain.

Charles Houston returned to K2 to lead the 1953 American expedition. The expedition failed due to a storm which pinned the team down for ten days at 7,800 metres (25,591 ft), during which time Art Gilkey became critically ill. A desperate retreat followed, during which Pete Schoening saved almost the entire team during a mass fall, and Gilkey was killed, either in an avalanche or in a deliberate attempt to avoid burdening his companions. In spite of the failure and tragedy, the courage shown by the team has given the expedition iconic status in mountaineering history.

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