Nepal team claim first winter ascent of Pakistan's K2

Past winter expeditions couldn’t get above 7,650 metres
Jan 16, 2021
Photo: Seven Summit Treks/Twitter
Photo: Seven Summit Treks/Twitter

A team of Nepalese climbers became the first to successfully summit Pakistan's K2 mountain in winter, according to a trekking company leading one of the expeditions.

Dozens of mountaineers have been competing over the past few weeks to summit the world's second highest mountain, the last peak above 8,000 metres to be topped in wintertime.

"WE DID IT" tweeted Seven Summit Treks. "The Karakorum's 'Savage Mountain' been summited in most dangerous season: winter. Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt K2 this afternoon at 17:00 local time."

Since the first attempt in 1987-1988, only a handful of winter expeditions have been made on the 8,611-metre (28,250-feet) mountain in the Karakoram massif on the Chinese border. None of them have got above 7,650 metres.

Even in summer, almost one in six climbers who attempt the summit die, and since the first success in 1954 only 450 people have managed it — compared to more than 6,000 who have scaled Mount Everest.

Lockdowns and travel bans sparked by the coronavirus outbreak mean the summer climbing season last year was a washout in Pakistan and other popular climbing destinations in the region, such as Nepal.

“People had plans for the year but they couldn’t go anywhere,” said Dutch mountaineer Arnold Coster, who is helping to lead one of the expeditions. "So we’ve been kind of jobless for a year and now lots of people want to do something," he told AFP.

Although Pakistan is still battling more than 2,000 fresh coronavirus cases a day, the country has reopened.

Throughout December, the teams flew into the northern town of Skardu and trekked over the Baltoro Glacier to reach base camp, from where they were to begin the ascent — an expedition that could take up to two and a half months in total depending on the weather.

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