K2, also known as Mount Godwin-Austen, and Chhogor is the second highest mountain in the world, after Mount Everest, at 8,611 metres (28,251 ft) above sea level. It is located on the China-Pakistan border between Baltistan, in the Gilgit–Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. K2 is the highest point of the Karakoram range and the highest point in Pakistan.
K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the extreme difficulty of ascent. It has the second-highest fatality rate among the eight thousanders. With around 300 successful summits and 80 fatalities, about one person dies on the mountain for every four who summit. It is more difficult and hazardous to reach the peak of K2 from the Chinese side; thus, it is usually climbed from the Pakistani side. Unlike Annapurna, the mountain with the highest fatality-to-summit rate (191 summits and 61 fatalities), K2 has never been climbed during winter.
The name K2 is derived from the notation used by the Great Trigonometric Survey of British India. Thomas Montgomerie made the first survey of the Karakoram from Mount Haramukh, some 210 km (130 miles) to the south, and sketched the two most prominent peaks, labeling them K1 and K2.
The policy of the Great Trigonometric Survey was to use local names for mountains wherever possible and K1 was found to be known locally as Masherbrum. K2, however, appeared not to have acquired a local name, possibly due to its remoteness. The mountain is not visible from Askole, the last village to the south, or from the nearest habitation to the north, and is only fleetingly glimpsed from the end of the Baltoro Glacier, beyond which few local people would have ventured. The name Chogori, derived from two Balti words, chhogo ("big") and ri ("mountain") has been suggested as a local name, but evidence for its widespread use is scant. It may have been a compound name invented by Western explorers or simply a bemused reply to the question "What's that called?" It does, however, form the basis for the name Qogir by which Chinese authorities officially refer to the peak. Other local names have been suggested including Lamba Pahar ("Tall Mountain" in Urdu) and Dapsang, but are not widely used.
Lacking a local name, the name Mount Godwin-Austen was suggested, in honor of Henry Godwin-Austen, an early explorer of the area, and while the name was rejected by the Royal Geographical Society, it was used on several maps, and continues to be used occasionally.
The surveyor's mark, K2, therefore continues to be the name by which the mountain is commonly known. It is now also used in the Balti language, rendered as Kechu or Ketu. The Italian climber Fosco Maraini argued in his account of the ascent of Gasherbrum IV that while the name of K2 owes its origin to chance, its clipped, impersonal nature is highly appropriate for so remote and challenging a mountain. He concluded that it was ...
... just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man – or of the cindered planet after the last.
Andre Weil named K3 surfaces in mathematics partly after the mountain K2.
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Our beautiful Pakistan is home to the world’s 2nd largest mountain in the whole world.
The name K2 was given in 1852 by British surveyor T.G. Montgomerie with “K” designating the Karakoram Range and “2” since it was the 2nd peak listed. During his survey, Montgomerie, standing on Mt. Haramukh 125 miles to the south, noted two prominent peaks to the north, calling them K1 and K2.
K2 is the world’s second tallest mountain reaching 28,253 ft. (8,612 m) above sea level, and is the world’s twenty-second most prominent mountain, rising 13,179 ft. (4,017 m) above the surrounding terrain.
The peak is located on the border that separates the Gilgit-Baltistan region in northern Pakistan and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China.
K2 has also been nicknamed “The Savage Mountain” because of the extreme level of danger it poses to climbers.
The first successful climb of K2 was led by Italian Ardito Desio in July of 1954, though only two members of the team Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni actually reached the summit.
Another difficulty which comes in the way of a climber is the of lack of oxygen, as this mountain is at a extremely high altitude.
K2 offers a spectacular view of the surrounding Masherbrum, Trango Towers, Uli Biaho Tower, Muztagh Tower, and Grand Cathedral.
K2 is notable for its local relief as well as its total height. It stands over 3,000 metres (9,840 ft) above much of the glacial valley bottoms at its base. It is a consistently steep pyramid, dropping quickly in almost all directions.
The year 1986 saw the death of 13 mountaineers while they attempted to climb K2. Few of these deaths were caused by avalanches, while others resulted from severe storms.
“It was a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of the 2015 Madison Mountaineering expedition to K2. Garrett did an outstanding job of managing the logistics, personnel, equipment and most importantly the safety of the climb. Despite the difficult conditions that resulted from the poor weather this season in the region the trip was an absolute success delivering a well organized, safe and dynamic experience for all those that participated. Madison did a terrific job in balancing all the complexities of organizing such a complex expedition to a region that has it challenges in terms of access, communications, comfort and safety. I would absolutely sign up again.”
-Brant Didden, 2015 K2 Climber
“We were very satisfied with the Madison Mountaineering K2 Expedition, especially the staff, the logistics, the base camp, and how the expedition was managed start to finish. We very much appreciated the experienced sherpas and Garrett’s ‘previous summit’ knowledge of K2.”
-Tanel Tuuleveski & Andras Kassik, 2015 K2 Climbers
“Despite the bad weather and unsafe route conditions that prevented us and all other climbers on K2 in 2015 from making the summit, I felt the expedition was safe, enjoyable, and a great experience. The base camp was well equipped with a spacious dining tent, comfortable personal tents for individual climbers, great food, a satellite modem that all climbers could use to get on the internet, and nightly films on a big screen. The highly skilled sherpas and our experienced/qualified guides were a key part of our success and safety on the mountain. Even though we did not summit the experience was priceless”
-Thomas Boyer, 2015 K2 Climber
“I wouldn’t hesitate to join Madison Mountaineering on any future 8000m expeditions they put together. Garrett and his team have the expertise to make the most challenging climbs safe, comfortable and fun. Madison Mountaineering provides a balance of expertise, comfort and safety that is unparalleled by any other guiding service I have used. They make the farthest flung corners of the world fun to adventure in. I would not have summited K2 without Garrett and his team.”
-Matthew Du Puy, 17th American to summit K2 thanks to Madison Mountaineering
“On July 27, 2014, my birthday, I became the oldest American to summit K2. The professionalism and skill of Garrett Madison was key in this achievement. His attention to detail, plus leveraging his extensive Everest experience gave our team the best chance to summit and descend safely and quickly on arguably the world’s toughest mountain.”
-Alan Arnette, Fort Collins, CO
The first and only successfully guided commercial mountaineering expedition to K2 was led by Madison Mountaineering in 2014. On July 27th, 2014 Garrett Madison reached the summit of K2 along with climbers Alan Arnette and Matthew Dupuy (read the expedition dispatches). We plan to return to K2 in 2016 and hope to repeat our success, bringing a team of 6 climbers.
Climbing K2 is much more challenging and far more dangerous than climbing Everest via the standard North or South side routes, and for this reason we plan to keep our team size small and comprised of qualified climbers, supported by some of the best climbing Sherpas and mountain guides in the world. Unlike on Everest, because the weather and route conditions are notoriously fickle on K2, we must be prepared to take advantage of very brief periods of good weather. Rock fall and snow avalanches are common on the route following K2’s Abruzzi ridge, making it often unsafe to climb or camp (as evidenced by the 2013 tragedy), and the monolithic ice cliff which overhangs the “bottleneck” and “traverse” portions of the route on summit day sheds ice frequently (as evidenced by the 2008 tragedy), so taking advantage of good route conditions and moving quickly are paramount.
8000 meter peaks such as Everest, Cho Oyu, and Manaslu are now frequented by commercial operators coordinating together to set the fixed ropes, therefore sharing this work load, however since K2 is undeveloped we will likely be working alone or with only one other team to set the fixed lines. Additionally, relying on support from other teams for help is not available so we must be self sufficient throughout.
Unfortunately the food available in Pakistan is not the best for foreigners, so we have developed a meal plan that encompasses the entire trek and climb. Most of this food is brought from the USA, and we have a Nepalese cook who we have worked with for many years who (with his staff) meticulously prepares each meal for our team. On the mountain our guides and Sherpas help prepare the meals. We find that climbers perform much better, and are often in better spirits, when the food is appetizing and nutritious.
We employ many porters to ferry our expedition loads to base camp. The trek to K2 base camp is more than twice the distance as the trek to Everest base camp (south side), and is considerably more arduous being mostly on glacier and loose rock. There are no villages or lodges (as on the Everest trek) so we must transport our entire camp kit by porters each day as we move our caravan towards base camp. Each porter on hire requires an additional porter to carry food and personal items, so we have a small army making our way up and down the Baltoro Glacier. It is very important to differentiate ourselves from other operators in that we have a very nice base camp, with large common tents with heating for dining and communications, and comfortable personal tents for each member. Being here almost 2 months, it is important for our team to have a comfortable camp, as well as to have access to the internet via a satellite modem (this cost is free to all members). We have modern VHF radios for communications on the mountain, and each member is issued their own radio. We also have satellite phones available to members.
We have regular access to hot showers, sinks for washing multiple times daily, one sanitary toilet tent for men and one for women, as well as ample space for storing your personal equipment securely.
Above base camp (16,300’) we have 5 camps: Advanced Base Camp (17,400’), Camp 1 (19,900’), Camp 2 (21,980’), Camp 3 (23,800), and Camp 4 (25,300’). Unlike many teams who share tents in various camps, we have our own dedicated tents in each camp that are preset to reserve our space at the beginning of the season. One should note that at Camp 1 and Camp 2 there is only space for 6-8 tents maximum, so if you arrive late in the season you must share a tent with another team that already has their camp established if you wish to use that camp. Much of the route leading up to Camp 4 is on steep snow or ice slopes, however there is also significant rock. Portions of the route such as House’s Chimney and The Black Pyramid involve sustained periods of vertical rock climbing, so one should be well versed using crampons on steep rock at high altitude.
Our plan is to climb partway up the route reaching Camp 3 to acclimatize before making our summit rotation. For details regarding our acclimatization and Oxygen strategy please contact our office.
On summit day we begin the gradual ascent of “the Shoulder” on hard snow and ice leading up to the bottleneck, a rock and snow climb under the looming Serac. Next is the “Traverse” which is mostly front pointing, and then the upper snow slopes leading to K2’s summit, where we are often breaking trail through knee deep snow. The view from the top is amazing!