K2 is the second-highest mountain on Earth. It is located in the Karakoram segment of the Himalayan range, on the border between the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan and the Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. However, those who climb K2 must acquire entry via Pakistan as the Chinese side is inaccessible.
Chinese authorities officially refer to K2 as Qogir; simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Qiáogēlǐ Fēng. This name is derived from Chogori, a synthetic name made up by Western explorers early in the 20th century from two Balti words, chhogo ('big') and ri ('mountain').Other names include Mount Godwin-Austen,Lamba Pahar ("Tall Mountain", Dapsang, Kechu or Ketu (both derived from
The mountain was first surveyed by a European survey team in 1856. Thomas Montgomerie was the member of the team who designated it "K2" for being the second peak of the Karakoram range. The other peaks were originally named K1, K3, K4 and K5, but were eventually renamed Masherbrum, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum I respectively.
In 1892, Martin Conway led a British expedition that could only reach up to 'Concordia' point of the Baltoro Glacier. The first serious attempt to climb K2 was undertaken in 1902 by Oscar Eckenstein and Aleister Crowley from the north side, but after five serious and costly attempts, the team could only reach up to 6525 meters. The failures are attributed to a combination of questionable physical training, personality conflicts, and poor weather conditions — of 68 days spent on K2 (at the time, the record for longest time spent at such an altitude) only eight provided clear weather.
Subsequent attempts to climb the mountain in 1909, 1934, 1938, 1939 and 1953 also ended in failure. The 1909 expedition, led by Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi, reached an elevation of 6,666 m on what is now known as the Abruzzi Spur (or Abruzzi Ridge). This is considered part of the standard route today; see the route section below.
An Italian expedition finally succeeded in ascending to the summit of K2 on July 31, 1954. The expedition was led by Ardito Desio, although the two climbers who actually reached the top were Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni. The team included a Pakistani member, Colonel Muhammad Ata-ullah. He had been a part of an earlier 1953 American expedition which failed to make the summit because of a storm which killed a key climber, Art Gilkey. On the expedition also was the famous Italian climber Walter Bonatti. He proved vital to the expeditions success in that he carried vital oxygen to 26,600ft for Lacedelli and Compagnoni. His dramatic bivouac, at that altitude with the equipment, wrote another chapter in the saga of Himalayan climbing.
On August 9, 1977, 23 years after the Italian expedition, Ichiro Yoshizawa led the second successful ascent to the top; with Ashraf Aman as the first native Pakistani climber. The Japanese expedition ascended through the Abruzzi Spur route traced by the Italians, and used more than 1,500 porters to achieve the goal.