What is K2?
K2 stands proud as Pakistan’s highest mountain and the world’s second highest at 8,612 meters. It is locally known as ‘Chogo Ri’ which literally means ‘The Great Mountain’. K2 has been thought of by many climbers as the most difficult mountain to climb. A typical climb requires expert skills to face the massive mountain slopes and the treacherous weather. And because of the severe weather conditions, K2 has also been called as “Savage Mountain”.
K2 is part of the Karakoram mountain range. The peak is located somewhere between Pakistan and China. The base camp is in Skardu, which is about 180 miles east of Islamabad in Pakistan. The climbing route also passes through the 62-kilometer long Baltoro Glacier, which is said to be the longest in the world outside of the Polar Regions. The Karakoram mountain range has several of the world’s highest peaks and largest glaciers.
The “K” in K2 is taken from the first letter of Karakoram, while the “2” represents the number or order it was surveyed back in 1856 by the Survey of India. It was originally named “Mt. Godwin-Austen” in honor of Henry Godwin-Austen, an English topographer and geologist.
There were many attempts to climb K2 from 1902 up to 1953. And it was not until July 31, 1954 that K2’s summit was first reached by an Italian team led by Ardito Desio. He was accompanied by Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni at the time. Twenty three years later, a second team was able to reach K2’s peak. Parts of this team were Ichiro Yoshizawa, a Japanese climber, and Ashraf Aman, the first from Pakistan to reach the mountain’s summit.
K2 indeed is a dangerous climb. With severe weather conditions and high avalanche danger, expert technical climbing skills are required. Many climbers have already died trying to reach K2’s summit. The fatality rate now stands at 27%, 3 times the death rate for Mt. Everest ‘“ the world’s highest peak.