by Kraig Becker
Wenger athlete Mike Horn and his climbing partners Fred Roux and Köbe Reichen have set an ambitious goal for themselves this summer. The three men are currently en route to Pakistan where they will spend the summer in the Karakoram Range attempting to climb one of the most difficult and deadly mountains on the planet. The veteran Swiss climbers have set their sights on K2, a peak that carries the ominous nickname of “the Savage Mountain.”
Standing 8611 meters (28,251 ft) in height, K2 is just 237 meters (777 ft) lower in altitude than Mt. Everest. Due to its remote location, unpredictable weather and extremely difficult technical challenges, it is orders of magnitude more difficult to climb however. To put the two peaks in perspective, last year Everest saw an estimated 550 successful summits, which is about on par for that mountain in recent years. Meanwhile, K2 had an unprecedented season with roughly 30 climbers reaching the summit. In the three previous years before that, not a single climber managed to top out.
Horn, Roux and Reichen left their native Switzerland today for Islamabad, where they will spend a few days organizing their gear and the logistics for the climb. After that, they’ll hop a flight to the town of Skardu, then travel by SUV to the remote village of Askole where the trek to Base Camp will begin. It will take approximately a week just to walk into BC before they can even begin the climb.
Neither of these men are strangers to the big Pakistani peaks. Horn has successfully climbed Gasherbrum I (8080m/26,509 ft) and II (8035m/26,361 ft) with Roux, and Broad Peak (8051m/26,414 ft) with Reichen in the past. That high altitude experience will be put to the ultimate test on K2, which has a death-to-summit rate of nearly 25%. That means for every four people who successfully reach the top, one dies.
The three men intend to climb in alpine style, eschewing the use of high altitude porters and bottled oxygen. Climbing in this fashion adds another level of challenge but is considered a more pure approach to mountaineering. Mike and Fred have even brought paragliders along with them and hope to fly off the summit when they have finished the climb.
Stay tuned for updates on the team’s progress in the weeks ahead.
[Photo Credit: Svy123 via WikiMedia]