The World’s Most Dangerous Mountain to Climb

March 24, 2022

Mount Everest is the tallest mountain in the world, yet it is by no means the most difficult to climb. Mount Everest stands at 29,032 feet tall and inspires hundreds of people to attempt to reach its summit every year. While climbing Everest is not an easy task, there is a far more daunting and dangerous climb just 900 miles northwest of Everest. The lesser known second tallest mountain in the world, named K2, is a far more difficult climb. 

Through K2’s reputation it has earned the nicknames Savage Mountain, Mountain of the Mountains, and The King of Mountains. All of these names are very fitting, if not an understatement of the harsh and unforgiving landscape and conditions of the mountain. A single misstep or a momentary lapse of judgment can easily lead to a fatal outcome. 

K2 stands at 28,251 feet and primarily differs from climbing Everest in that the summit of K2 cannot be reached solely by walking. It must be climbed. The sharp cliffs that surround the peak make it impossible to reach the top without climbing equipment.

The first time K2 was successfully climbed was in 1954. According to The Guardian, Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli were the first people to successfully reach the summit. This was the seventh attempt to reach the summit. Each of the previous six attempts dating as far back as 1902 had been unsuccessful.

Previously, K2 had never successfully been climbed during the wintertime and the task was thought by many to be impossible. However, in 2016 K2 was successfully conquered during the wintertime. The climb was historic for a multitude of reasons. One reason that this climb was historic was because it was done solely by a Sherpa climbing team. 

For a very long time the fame received for making historic climbs has gone almost exclusively to Westerners, while the Sherpas who have enabled the Westerners to make the climb have been long overlooked. It was a matter of huge significance that this Sherpa climbing group achieved such an impressive feat and finally received some long overdue recognition 

Another reason that this climb is historic is that the climbing of K2 during the winter time was thought to be impossible. ABC News claims that temperatures on K2 during the winter season fall as low as negative 76 degrees fahrenheit and winds reach 124 miles per hour. High winds mixed with lots of snow leads to whiteouts that reduce visibility to close to nothing. Whiteouts paired with treacherous terrain including cliffs and avalanches would certainly make climbing the mountain during the wintertime seem unfeasible. 

Even during the summer there are often very few weather windows that allow for K2 to be climbed. The weather on K2 varies drastically and makes it absolutely impossible to climb for the vast majority of the year.  

In fact, NASA states that the conditions are so brutal that climbing K2 has a fatality rate of 29 percent. Out of every 100 people who attempt to climb this mountain, 29 will end up dying. 

The infamous 2008 K2 Disaster was the deadliest day to ever occur on K2. On August 1, 2008, a group of 25 people attempted to climb the mountain. Business Insider reports that 11 out of the 25 people attempting the climb did not survive the journey. The causes of death included an avalanche, falling ice, and fatal falls off of cliffs. 

As of February 2021 it is reported that the number of people to successfully climb K2 is just 377. Despite the long odds of reaching the top and the deadly history of climbing K2, people still continue to attempt to climb it. In recent years there have been several thrill seekers who have done some spectacular things on K2.

A Polish man by the name of Andrzej Bargiel became the first ever person to ski down K2’s summit to its base camp all without ever removing his skis. Bargiel accomplished this spectacular achievement in July of 2018, and the thrilling video of this was captured and is available to watch online.

In July 2019 a German woman named Anja Blacha became the first woman to reach the top of K2, and she did so without using any supplemental oxygen.

Thrill seekers around the world are fueled to continue to try and best one another in climbing the ever so dangerous mountain and will continue to become more innovative and daring in their quests. 

The dangers of K2 will continue to be prominent and hopefully its deadly past will serve as a cautionary tale for those attempting to interact with it.

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