Topographic Characteristics

>> Wednesday, January 13, 2010

K2 is only ranked 22nd by topographic prominence, a measure of a mountain's independent stature, because it is part of the same extended area of uplift (including the Karakoram, the Tibetan Plateau, and the Himalaya) as Mount Everest, in that it is possible to follow a path from K2 to Everest that goes no lower than 4,594 m (15,070 ft) (at Mustang Lo). Many other peaks which are far lower than K2 are more independent in this sense.

However, K2 is notable for its local relief as well as its total height. It stands over 3,000 metres (9,843 ft) above much of the glacial valley bottoms at its base. More extraordinary is the fact that it is a consistently steep pyramid, dropping quickly in almost all directions. The north side is the steepest: there it rises over 3,200 metres (10,499 ft) above the K2 (Qogir) Glacier in only 3,000 metres (9,843 ft) of horizontal distance. In most directions, it achieves over 2,800 metres (9,186 ft) of vertical relief in less than 4,000 metres (13,123 ft).

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