K2

Elevation: 28,253 feet (8,612 meters)
Prominence: 13,179 feet (4,017 meters)
Location: Pakistan/China, Asia
Coordinates: 35°52′57″ N 76°30′48″ E
First Ascent: Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli (Italy), July 31, 1954

Fast Facts:

  • K2, located on the Pakistan-Chinese border, is the 2nd highest mountain in the world; Pakistan’s highest mountain; and the world’s 22nd most prominent mountain.
  • The name K2 was given in 1852 by British surveyor T.G. Montgomerie with “K” designating the Karakoram Range and “2” since it was the 2nd peak listed. During his survey, Montgomerie, standing on Mt. Haramukh 125 miles to the south, noted two prominent peaks to the north, calling them K1 and K2. While he kept native names, he found that K2 did not have a known name. Later the peak was named Mount Godwin-Austen for an early explorer but it was never recognized.
  • A name for K2 is Chogori, derived from Balti words chhogo ri, meaning “large mountain.” The Chinese call the mountain Qogir meaning “Great Mountain,” while Balti locals call it Kechu.
  • K2 is nicknamed the “Savage Mountain” for its severe weather. It is typically climbed in June, July, or August. K2 has never been climbed in winter.
  • British climbers Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), an occultist and hedonist, and Oscar Eckenstein (1859-1921) led an expedition of six climbers that made the first attempt to climb K2, from March to June, 1902. The party spent 68 days on the mountain, with only 8 clear days, attempting the northeast ridge. Spending two months at high altitude, the party made 5 summit attempts. The last one began on June 8 but 8 days of bad weather defeated them and they retreated after a high point of 21,407 feet (6,525 meters). Scraps of expedition clothing were later found below K2 and are displayed at Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder, Colorado.
  • Italian climber Prince Luigi Amedeo (1873-1933), the Duke of Abruzzi, led an expedition to K2 in 1909. His party attempted the southeast ridge, the Abruzzi Spur, reaching an elevation of 20,505 feet (6,250 meters) before deciding that the climb was too difficult. The ridge is now the usual way that most climbers ascend K2. Before departing, the Duke said that the mountain would never be climbed.
  • The peak’s 2nd ascent came on August 9, 1977, 23 years after K2’s first ascent, by a Japanese team led by Ichiro Yoshizawa. The team also included Ashraf Aman, the first Pakistani climber to summit K2.
  • The first American ascent was in 1978. A strong team led by James Whittaker ascended a new route up the peak’s Northeast Ridge.
  • K2 is one of the most difficult 8,000ers with technical climbing, severe weather conditions, and high avalanche danger. As of early 2009, 305 climbers have reached K2’s summit, while at least 76 have died.
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