Success and Repeats

>> Wednesday, January 13, 2010



An Italian expedition finally succeeded in ascending to the summit of K2 on July 31, 1954. The expedition was led by Ardito Desio, although the two climbers who actually reached the top were Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni. The team included a Pakistani member, Colonel Muhammad Ata-ullah, who had been a part of the 1953 American expedition. Also on the expedition were the famous Italian climber Walter Bonatti and Pakistani Hunza porter Mahdi, who proved vital to the expedition's success in that they carried oxygen to 26,600 feet (8,100 m) for Lacedelli and Compagnoni. Their dramatic bivouac in the open at that altitude wrote another chapter in the saga of Himalayan climbing.

On August 9, 1977, 23 years after the Italian expedition, Ichiro Yoshizawa led the second successful ascent to the top; with Ashraf Aman as the first native Pakistani climber. The Japanese expedition ascended through the Abruzzi Spur route traced by the Italians, and used more than 1,500 porters to achieve the goal.


The West Face and upper slopes of K2The year 1978 saw the third ascent of K2, via a new route, the long, corniced Northeast Ridge. (The top of the route traversed left across the East Face to avoid a vertical headwall and joined the uppermost part of the Abruzzi route.) This ascent was made by an American team, led by noted mountaineer James Whittaker; the summit party was Louis Reichardt, Jim Wickwire, John Roskelley, and Rick Ridgeway. Wickwire endured an overnight bivouac about 150 meters (492 ft) below the summit, one of the highest bivouacs in climbing history. This ascent was emotional for the American team, as they saw themselves as completing a task that had been begun by the 1938 team forty years earlier.

Another notable Japanese ascent was that of the difficult North Ridge, on the Chinese side of the peak, in 1982. A team from the Mountaineering Association of Japan led by Isao Shinkai and Masatsugo Konishi put three members, Naoe Sakashita, Hiroshi Yoshino, and Yukihiro Yanagisawa, on the summit on August 14. However Yanagisawa fell and died on the descent. Four other members of the team achieved the summit the next day.

The first climber to summit K2 twice was a Czech climber Josef Rakoncaj. Rakoncaj was a member of the 1983 Italian expedition led by Francesco Santon, which made the second successful ascent of the North Ridge (July 31 , 1983). Three years later, on July 5, 1986, he summitted on the Abruzzi Spur (double with Broad Peak West Face solo) as a member of Agostino da Polenza's international expedition.

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