A team of climbers from Nepal become the first mountaineers to successfully complete a winter attempt on the summit of K2, the world’s second tallest peak.
The group of sherpas had paused at a point 70 meters short of the 8,611 metres (28,251 foot) peak to wait for each other before climbing into the world’s history books together at 4:56 pm, according to a local Alpine Club official, and a statement on one of the team member’s websites. Standing at 8,611 meters, K2 is the most prominent peak on the Pakistani side of the Himalayan range, and the world’s second-tallest after Mount Everest.
Winter winds on K2 can blow at more than 200 km/h and temperatures drop to minus 60C.
Located on the Pakistan China border, K2 is the only mountain over 8,000 metres that had not been summitted in the winter.
The group were named as Nirmal Purja, Gelje Sherpa, Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma G, Sona Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Pem Chhiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa, and Dawa Tenjing Sherpa.
Their success was marred by the death on the mountain of renowned Spanish climber Sergio Mingote, who fell down a crevasse as he attempted to make his way down to Base Camp, Karrar Haidri, secretary of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, told Reuters.
“We did it, believe me we did it—a journey to the summit never done before. The Karakorum’s ‘Savage Mountain’ been summited in most dangerous season: Winter. Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt. K2 (Chhogori 8,611 m) this afternoon at 17:00 local time,” the company, Seven Summit Treks, said in a tweet on Saturday evening.
Speaking to Xinhua news agency, Karar Haidari, Secretary General of Alpine Club of Pakistan, a non-governmental organization working for promotion of mountaineering and adventure tourism in Pakistan, said the 10-member Nepalese team was the first one to reach the summit of 8,611 metres in winter.
A total of 48 mountaineers including five women reached the mountain’s base camp to kick off the expedition on December 29, 2020, out of which five were injured and many others returned due to tough weather at the peak, he said. Around 49 climbers in several teams are on K2 making attempts on the summit, weather permitting.
Talking about the reason for the mountain being the only major peak not scaled in winter, Haidari said that it is the deadliest among the five highest peaks in the world and that on average one in every four dies on the way to the summit even in summer during which it has been scaled multiple times.
“It is the highest point of the Karakoram, which is very steep and in winter the temperature here falls below minus 50 degrees Celsius. Extremely cold weather coupled with winds at the speed of 100-200 km per hour makes it the most challenging expedition in the world for mountaineers,” he said.
Of the 367 people that had completed its ascent by 2018, 86 had died. The Pakistani military is regularly called in to rescue climbers using helicopters but the weather often makes that difficult.
The previous highest altitude achieved on K2 in winter was 7,750 meters by Denis Urubko and Marcin Kaczkan, set nearly two decades ago.
The K2 is located on the China–Pakistan border between in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, and Dafdar Township in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China.
It is the highest point of the Karakoram mountain range and the highest point in both Pakistan and Xinjiang.
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