Karakoram Range, Pakistan

Everest’s smaller cousin (and second highest mountain in the world) is K2. Located across Pakistan and China on the Karakoram mountains, K2 is best accessed from the Pakistan side of the border, which is in the Kashmir province.

Counted amongst the world’s highest mountains, K2 is a confirmed “8 thousander” as it reaches well over 8000 metres in height, and is known to be one of the most dangerous mountains worldwide, with a huge 25% percent fatality rate. Still, this does not stop many from attempting the climb every year.

Beginning attempts to scale the huge mountain began at the turn of the 20th century, when a number of climbers, including Eckenstein and Crowley, decided to begin the challenge. They quickly realised, however, that the trek to the base of the mountain would take about two weeks. This was, of course, before the advent of modern transport links to the base of the mountain. It took the climbers almost 70 days to ascend to 20,000 feet, at which they gave up and returned to the foot of the mountain.

The second attempt was made by Italian royal prince Luigi Amedeo, who managed to reach just a hundred feet more than the first expedition at what is now known as the Abruzzi Ridge, after one of the prince’s titles as Duke Abruzzi. After a challenging climb, Amedeo descended to the mountain base, deciding that the mountain would never be conquered.

Towards the end of the 1930s, however, a number of additional attempts were made, at varying degrees of success. Some were hampered by bad weather, while the Wiessener expedition ended in tragedy when four of the team completely vanished on the mountain within feet of the summit.

It was a group of Italians, along with some locals, that succeeded in scaling the mountain in 1954. It would be another 20 years before another success was achieved, this time by a local climber along with a Japanese group. This followed a number of successful climbs, which is quite a feat given the difficulty of the mountain. Although it is smaller than Everest, K2 does have frequently bad weather and a number of dangerous passes, meaning that just over 300 people have successfully completed the trek.

As a result, this stunning mountain has had its fair share of disasters throughout the modern history of climbing it, thus its nickname ‘Savage Mountain’. Bad storms, avalanches, and falls have meant that more than eighty have lost their lives, earning K2 the reputation as the world’s most dangerous mountain. Add to this the danger of altitude sickness and hypoxia, and a climb of the many steep faces of K2 is definitely one of the most challenging, especially when climbing in the death zone.

No matter what challenges face those who climb K2, it is without a doubt one of the most magnificent mountains on the world, affording unparalleled views into Pakistan and China, and a trip to even the base of this fantastic pyramid shaped mountain is definitely worth the trek!

(Image by mariachily on Flickr)

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