Monday, April 18, 2011

K-2 (World 2nd largest mountain)



K2 is the 2nd highest mountain in the world. It is located at 35°52′57″N 76°30′48″E / 35.8825, 76.51333 with an altitude of 8,611 meter (28,251 ft. It is located in vast mountain range of Karakoram in Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan. K2 stretches from Pakistan to China border. K2 is a rocky mountain up to 6,000m, beyond which it becomes an ocean of snow. The glacier- and snow-covered mountain rises from its base at about 15,000 feet (4,570 meters) on Baltoro Glacier. It is the highest mountain peak of Pakistan.


The name K2 is derived from the notation used by the Great Trigonometric Survey. Thomas Montgomerie made the first survey of the Karakoram and sketched the two most prominent peaks, labeling them K1 and K2 K2 is taken from the first letter of Karakorum, and the number indicates that it was the second peak in the range to be measured. K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the difficulty of ascent and the 2nd highest fatality rate.  K2 Mountain is believed by many to be the world's most difficult and dangerous climb. This is due to its more inclement weather and comparatively greater height from base to peak.  K2 is also known as Chogo RI” which means “The Great Mountain”. This is local name of K-2, derived from two Balti words which mean big mountain. But widely it is known as K-2.

The traditional route to K2's base camp goes from Skardu, which is linked with Islamabad by a good road. From Skardu the route goes via Shigar-Dassu-Askole up to Concordia over the Baltoro glacier. K2 has never been climbed in winter.The best trek season to climb k-2 is from April to October. It is typically climbed in June, July, or August.

K2 Mountain is very difficult to climb up that many people lost their lives in trying. For every four people who have reached the summit, one has died trying. As of July 2010, only 302 people have completed the ascent. At least 77 people have died attempting the climb. Because K2 is prone to frequent and severe storms that make the already treacherous climbing conditions on its slopes even more challenging and make difficult functioning at such high elevations. That is the reason only a small fraction of people have reached the top.

First ascent was made by an Italian expedition Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli ion July 31, 1954. The team included a Pakistani member, Colonel Muhammad Ata-ullah, who had been a part of the 1953 American expedition. Also on the expedition were the famous Italian climber Walter Bonatti and Pakistani Hunza porter Mahdi, who proved vital role to the expedition's success in that he carried oxygen to 26,600 feet (8,100 m) for Lacedelli and Compagnoni.

K2 has few numbers of tough and fully dangerous routes. As it is on the extreme high altitude resulting into lack of oxygen is one of the difficulties faced by climbers. Second, it has very rough and ever changing weather which .mostly remains in the form of dark storms and coldness for several days. Third is the steep, exposed, and committing nature of all routes on the mountain, which makes retreat more difficult, especially during a storm.

All major climbing routes lie on the Pakistani side, which is also where the base camp is located.The standard route of ascent, used far more than any other route, is the Abruzzi Spur, located on the Pakistani side, first attempted by Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi in 1909. This is the southeast ridge of the peak, rising above the Godwin Austen Glacier. The spur proper begins at an altitude of 5,400 m/17,700 ft, where Advanced Base Camp is usually placed. The route follows an alternating series of rock ribs, snow/ice fields, and some technical rock climbing on two famous features, "House's Chimney" and the "Black Pyramid." Above the Black Pyramid, dangerously exposed and difficult to navigate slopes lead to the easily visible "Shoulder", and thence to the summit. The last major obstacle is narrow couloirs known as the "Bottleneck”, which places climbers dangerously close to a wall of serac which form an ice cliff to the east of the summit.

Almost opposite from the Abruzzi Spur is the North Ridge which ascends the Chinese side of the peak. It is rarely climbed, partly due to very difficult access, involving crossing the Shaksgam River, which is a hazardous undertaking.  This route, more technically difficult than the Abruzzi, ascends a long, steep, primarily rock ridge to high on the mountain (Camp IV, the "Eagle's Nest", 7,900 m/25,900 ft), and then crosses a dangerously slide-prone hanging glacier by a leftward climbing traverse, to reach a snow couloirs which accesses the summit.

The major routes to have been climbed on the south side of the mountain.
1)    West Ridge
2)    West Face
3)    Southwest Pillar
4)    South Face
5)    South-southeast Spur
6)     Abruzzi Spur

 For most of its climbing history, K2 was not usually climbed with bottled oxygen. However the 2004 season saw a great increase in the use of oxygen: 28 of 47 summiteers used oxygen in that year. Acclimatization is essential when climbing without oxygen to avoid some degree of altitude sickness. K2's summit is well above the altitude at which high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) can occur above the 8000-metre altitude that marks the boundary of the "death zone."

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