About the mountain
K2 is the second highest mountain in the world at 8,611m (28,251ft), lying on the Chinese-Pakistan border in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Northern Pakistan. It is thought that due to its remoteness K2 never acquired a local name in the same way that K1 did (now locally known as Masherbrum), and so the name K2 has stuck, although some claim it to be known as “Chogori” meaning ‘Big Mountain’, but little evidence suggests this is widely used.
K2 is an extremely challenging mountain to climb, and is known as the “Savage Mountain”, and is also the only 8,000er which has never been climbed in the Winter.
Despite several attempts, all expeditions failed to reach the summit due to various reasons until 31st July 1954 when an Italian expedition lead by Ardito Desio were finally successful, with Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni being the first on the summit. Since this time there have been around 300 successful summits of the mountain, so compared with some of the other 8,000ers this summit remains elusive to most who try, so a real feather in the cap of those who succeed.
Due to the difficulty of climbing this mountain and the experience required, Himex offers this trip only to those who have summited two previous 8,000m mountains, one of which must be Everest.
Climbing the mountain
Himex uses the “Cesen route” to climb the mountain, using a basecamp and 4 higher camps up the mountain, and is done over a 67 day programme. This route joins up with the well known “Abruzzi route” further up the mountain, but we consider our route safer because it avoids the ‘Black Pyramid’ which is the first big obstacle on the Abruzzi.
The trip will start in Islamabad and from here we will fly to Skardu. From here we spend several hours in Jeeps driving to Askole before undertaking the 8 day trek to basecamp which is situated at around 5,200m. This relatively long trek to basecamp goes through the famous Shigar Valley and Baltoro Glacier region of Baltistan, where there are several high peaks situated in the world’s largest temperate zone glacier. An incredible 19 of the peaks in this region tower over 7,600m, while 4 of them are 8,000ers, making this trip to basecamp a unique experience, surrounded by such magnificence. During the trek we will stay each night at Jula, Paiju, Urdukus, Goro-II, Concordia before arriving at basecamp. It should be pointed out that unlike other trips into basecamp, we will be camping at each location rather than staying in lodges.
On the mountain we will aim to place camp 1 at around 6,050m, camp 2 around 6,700m, camp 3 at 7,400 and camp 4 at around 7,800 or potentially higher up the shoulder if possible to increase our chances of reaching the summit.
Summit day will start at around 11pm with an aim to be on the summit by 2pm. The route to the summit takes us through the famous ‘bottle neck’ section of the mountain, which is beneath the giant overhanging seracs which form an ice cliff to the east of the summit.