ISLAMABAD, July 28: While on the political front, Friday brought doom and gloom for politicians, as the country’s 13th elected prime minister was ousted from the top slot of the government, it brought joy for mountaineers as they conquered K2, the second highest mountain in the world. The climbers made it to the summit for the first time since 2014 braving bad weather.
The week also proved a good for other climbers who also made it to the summits of Broad Peak and Gasherbrum-II in the heart of the Karakoram Ranges.
After two unsuccessful attempts to scale the mountain in 2015 and 2016, the Vanessa O Brien, 58, became the first American-British woman to summit the 8,611-meter-high K2, known as the ‘savage mountain’ at 12:25 pm.
O Brian’s team member, Icelandic climber John Snorri Sigurjónsson, became the first man from the Nordic country to summit K2.
The summits came after a spell of harsh weather and heavy snowfall on the mountain.
There were six expeditions on the mountain but most of them returned back owing to high risks.
Vanessa, according to the Guinness World Record, is the first woman to set a speed record to complete the Explorers Grand Slam (Seven Summits plus skiing the last degree to the North and South Poles) in 11 months, and one of only nine women to do so in the world. She climbed the Everest in 2010. She reached Pakistan on June 14.
According to the climbing records, only 18 women have survived the climb to the top of K2.
Mingma Sherpa from Nepal, who was leading the group, stated on his Facebook page that apart from O’Brien and Sigurjónsson, Chinese climbers Zhang Liang, Jing Xue, Azong had also made it to the summit with six other Nepali Sherpas — Dawa Gyalje, Tsering Pemba, Nima Tshering, Lakpa Nuru, Nima Nuru and Ang Tsering.
“We [were] 12 people to reach the summit within an hour,” Mingma wrote.
“After a couple [of] days with bad weather, snowfalls and no visibility, the sun has finally come out today. There is a little ‘window’ but according to various forecasts, the weather will change again in the evening. There is simply not enough time to think about a summit attack. We have to patiently wait for conditions to improve,” he posted on his Instagram page on Thursday.
Separately, Polish skier and climber Andrzej Bargiel is also on the mountain. After having skied down from the summit of Broad Peak in 2015, Bargiel is back, this time hoping to ski down from the summit of K2. But that attempt was up in the air.
The ‘Savage Mountain’
Located in the Karakoram Ranges on the Pakistan-Chinese border, K2 is the second-highest and 22nd most prominent mountain in the world with an elevation of 28,253 feet (8,612 meters) and a prominence of 13,179 feet (4,017 meters).
The name K2 was given in 1852 by British surveyor T.G. Montgomerie with “K” denoting the ‘Karakoram’ and ‘2’ as its second position on the list of highest mountains. During his survey, Montgomerie, standing on Mountain Haramukh, 125 miles to the south, noted two prominent peaks to the north, calling them K1 and K2. While he kept native names, he found that K2 did not have a known name. Later K2 was named Godwin-Austen for Haversham Godwin-Austen (1834-1923), an early British surveyor and explorer. Godwin-Austen climbed 1,000 meters up a spur of Masherbrum above Urdukas and fixed the approximate height and position of K2 from there, according to Catherine Moorehead, the author of The K2 Man And His Molluscs, a biography of Godwin-Austen. The local name in Balti language for K2 is Chhogo Ri, meaning ‘large mountain’ or Kechu. The Chinese call the mountain Qogir meaning ‘Great Mountain’.
The fatality rate on K2 is 27 percent. If you attempt K2, you have a 1 in 4 chance of dying. Before the 2008 tragedy, of the 198 climbers who climbed the peak, 53 died on K2, three times the 9 percent fatality rate on Everest and next to Annapurna, the second most dangerous 8,000-meter peak.
As of 2014, over 335 climbers have reached K2’s summit, while at least 82 have died.
On Broad Peak, Spanish climber Oscar Cadiach reached the summit on Thursday, completing his quest of climbing all of the 14 mountains higher than 8,000 meters without supplemental oxygen.
He was joined by Turkish photographer and climber Tunç Fındık and two Pakistani climbers, Mohammad Ali ‘Sadpara’ and Mohammad Yousaf.
Separately, Norwegian Kari Røstad also scaled Broad Peak, becoming the first Norwegian woman to do so.
She was followed by Pakistani climbers — Ameenullah Baig, who reportedly completed his conquest of the four Pakistani mountains taller than 8,000 metres and Ali Raza. Ameen has already conquered K2, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum-I and Gasherbrum-II.
Broad Peak has three separate summits: main (8,047m), central (8,016m) and north (7,550m).
The first ascent of the main summit was made in 1957 by an Austrian expedition team consisting of four climbers. Using many of the fixed lines set up by the failed German expedition of 1954, all the four made it to the summit in alpine style without using oxygen aid or high altitude porters.
Broad Peak middle was climbed by another five-member Polish team — Marek Kesicki, Bohdan Nowaczyk, Kazimierz Glazek, Janusz Kulis and Andrzej Sikorski – on 28th of July 1975. Kesicki, Nowaczyk and Sikorski died during the descent.
From the first ascent in 1957 till now, Broad Peak has been climbed by over 300 times and had claimed over 20 lives. Only five people have climbed Broad Peak twice.
There have been several winter expeditions to Broad Peak since 1987-88 when Andrzej Zawada, a Polish climber, considered a pioneer of winter climbing, led the first international winter expedition to K2 with climbers from Poland, Canada, and Great Britain. When they failed to scale K2, the team members Aleksander Lwow and Maciej Berbeka attempted Broad Peak and they only reached the Fore Peak. None of the five 8,000m peaks in Pakistan has been climbed in the winter thus far.
The new route up the south-west face was climbed by Denis Urubko and Serguey Samoilov in Alpine style in July 2005. Valery Babanov and his partner Victor Afanasiev climbed Broad Peak central pillar up to the west face in alpine style in 2008.
A Bulgarian climber, Boyan Petrov made history after conquering Gasherbrum-II on July 22, completing his dream of having climbed all the mountains in Pakistan that are over 8,000 meters high.