God has created mountains to support and hold the earth. But these mountains are the beauty of the earth as well. Sky high mountains always inspire the people and are one of the main tourist attractions around the world. Mountains are changing into tourist resorts and mountaineering is getting attention all over the world. Pakistan is a very rich country in terms of mountains. There are highest mountain ranges of the world. Karakaram is one of the famous mountain ranges in Pakistan. It has four mountain peaks which are eight thousand meters or more higher. There are fourteen highest mountain peaks in the world out of which five are in Pakistan. Among the highest mountains, there is K-2 (Godwin Austen) which is the second highest mountain of the world after Mount Everest. Its elevation is 8611 meters (28251ft). K-2 is the part of Karakaram range. It is located in the Gilgit Baltistan province of Pakistan. In local language it is called Chogori which means the “Big Mountain”. It is also called Godwin-Austin Mountain. Readers of this article may have question that why not Everest is in discussion. The reason is that it is easy to climb the Everest, but it is very difficult to climb K-2 because it has no straight routes to climb. K-2 has the second highest fatality rate after Annapurna. Due to the high fatality rate it is called the Savage Mountain. It is interesting that no one has climbed K-2 in winter yet.
A surveyor Thomas Montgomerie and his team, who visited the mountain in 1856, suggested the name K-2 for the mountain. The first serious attempt to climb the mountain was made in 1902 by Oscar Eckenstien and Aleister Crowley. At that time means of transportation were not so good so it took 14 days to reach to the foot of Mountain. In total it took 68 days to climb 6525m. This expedition was resulted in the sickness of the climbers. The next attempt was in 1909 by Prince Luigi Amedeo who was given the title of Duke of Abruzzi. The prince and his team climbed upto 6250m (20505ft). The route they used was given the name Abruzzi later on. Continuous tries and failures discouraged the Duke and he declared that K-2 can never be climbed. There was no expedition until 1938, then Charles Houston and his team started an expedition and climbed 8000m (26247ft). Another American expedition was started in 1958 lead by Charles Houston again. This time they climbed 7800m (25591ft). They had to stay at 7800m for ten days which made one member of the team, Art Gilkey ill who was later on killed. Finally the mountain was climbed in 1954 by an Italian team led by Ardito Desio. This expedition included very famous names of mountaineering like Walter Bonatti from Italy. In 1977 the mountain was climbed second time by Ichiro Yoshizawa from Japan and Ashraf Aman from Pakistan. Then in 1978, 1982, 1983, 1986 were the successful attempts.
TRAGIC DEATH TOLL
It is believed by many of the climbers that K-2 is the most difficult and dangerous mountain in the world to climb. It is said that 77 persons have died so far in climbing attempts. In 1986 K-2 disaster brought death to 13 people. Recently in 2008 a group of climbers went missing which claimed 11 deaths. In 2010 Fredrik Ericsson was killed. Its climbing difficulty can be understood with the fact that just 302 have completed the ascent do far while on the other side 2700 people have completed the ascent of Mount Everest.
As location of K-2 is shared by Pakistan & China, so it has climbing routes on both sides. But it is climbed from the Pakistan side where is actually the base camp. There are two main routes to climb the mountain, one is called the Abruzzi Spur and the other is called North Ridge. North ridge is a difficult route to climb because of the Shaksgam River, which have to cross. Abruzzi spur is a comparatively easy route and is preferred by almost all climbers.
If you are not a professional climber or mountaineer even then the place needs to have a visit. It’s a marvelously beautiful place to see.