Summit Bids Begin On K2

by Kraig Becker

Few peaks have a reputation as fearsome as K2. At 8611 meters (28,251 ft) in height, it is the second tallest mountain on the planet and  one of the toughest to climb. It’s extreme technical difficulty, not to mention propensity for bad weather, have earned it the moniker of “the Savage Mountain” or “the mountaineer’s mountain” and unlike Everest, which sees hundreds of successful summits each year, K2 generally gets only a handful – if any at all. This year about two dozen climbers hope to scale the mountain with the first major push set to get underway this weekend.

On Wednesday of this week a group of about 20 climbers set off from K2 Base Camp in preparation for their potential summit bids. Weather forecasts indicate that conditions will be ideal starting on Saturday and extending into early next week. In order to take advantage of this window the climbers left for their various high camps with the hope of topping out sometime in the next few days. They are taking a route up the mountain’s Southeast Ridge that is known as the Abruzzi Spur. While this is the most popular path to the summit, it is a very long and difficult ascent that leaves alpinists exposed to any number of dangers including high winds, heavy snow and sudden avalanches. Those kinds of challenges have conspired to make K2 one of the deadliest mountains in the world with one person dying out of every four who summit.

The climbing teams have spent the past several weeks acclimatizing to the high altitude while simultaneously stocking their camps with all of the gear and supplies that they’ll need for this final push. They’ll put all of their hard work and preparation to the test in the next few days however and if everything goes as planned, they just might get the opportunity to step onto one of the most seldom visited places on the planet.

Amongst the climbers hoping to reach the summit of K2 this season are Wenger Ambassador Mike Horn and his teammates Fred Roux and Köbe Reichen. It is unclear if they are part of this current summit push but when they do make their attempt the trio will be doing so without bottled oxygen. If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, Mike and Fred will be carrying paragliders with them to the summit with the hopes of flying off the top of K2.

We’ll keep you posted on their progress.

[Photo Credit: Kuno Lechner]