China Pakistan – A few notes on K2, the second highest mountain in the world

K2 , also known as Mount Godwin-Austen, located in the Karakorum group belonging to the Himalayas, is with its 8,609.02 meters of altitude, the second highest mountain on Earth after Everest. It is located right on the border between the Pakistan-controlled part of Kashmir and the China-controlled Tajik Autonomous Province of Tashkurgan. The name K2 stands for Karakorum 2 , ie "second peak of the Karakorum", and was assigned to the mountain by Colonel Thomas George Montgomerie , a member of the group led by geographer Henry Haversham Godwin-Austen, who made the first surveys in 1856. The "2 "was actually born from an error in measuring the height of the summit: in fact the name K1 was initially given to Mount Masherbrum, which is considerably lower, but by pure coincidence the number" 2 "corresponded to the position of the mountain in the list of highest peaks in the world and this justified its maintenance even later. Due to its mountaineering difficulty and the high mortality rate among many of those who have attempted the feat, K2 is also known as "the Wild Mountain". The great and authoritative climber Reinhold Messner indicates that it is even the most difficult eight -thousanders to climb and his opinion is also shared by other figures in the sector. Its extreme difficulty derives from several factors: the extreme steepness of all its slopes, the presence of very challenging and dangerous climbing sections near the summit and the almost total absence of suitable places for a field. The ascent of K2 is therefore much more difficult than that of Everest, whose slopes are much less steep and can be tackled even by mountaineers who are not perfectly experienced and trained, as long as they are equipped with clothing suitable for very low temperatures and with oxygen respirators. to overcome the high rarefaction of the air at altitude. The summit was reached for the first time by Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli on July 31, 1954 , within the Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio. For this reason it is also known as "The mountain of the Italians." The latitude of K2 is 8 ° further north of Everest, which, if on the one hand weakens the impetus of the monsoon, on the other it makes the climate more rigid and more difficult to predict: the mountain is in fact often subject to violent storms lasting several days, which in some years prevented the summit from being reached for the entire season. The approach from the Pakistani side involves several stages and sometimes requires more than two weeks of walking, however compared to the Chinese side, the Pakistani side remains the best known and most popular. The approach trek normally starts from Rawalpindi or Islamabad, from where you fly to Skardu in northern Pakistan. Then we go, usually by off-road vehicles, to the village of Askole, from where we continue on foot. During the approach march, you will encounter several villages and equipped camps, including: Korophone, Jhula, Bardumal, Paiju, Khuburse, Urdukas and Goro. However, K2 does not show itself until you reach Circo Concordia, the meeting point of the Baltoro, Abruzzi and Godwin-Austen glaciers (4,720 m), from where it suddenly appears as a huge cone that stands out in the sky and overlooks the surrounding peaks. We can add, however, that the Sperone Abruzzi , is the most used route ever and owes its name to Luigi Amedeo di Savoia-Aosta , Duke of the Abruzzi, who opened it in 1909. This route follows the south-east ridge and begins at 5,400 meters, where an advanced base camp can be set up near the Godwin-Austen glacier. Around the top also live different peoples of different ethnic groups and cultures, united by living for centuries in extreme environments with subsistence economies of agricultural and pastoral type, such as the Balti, the Hunzakut, the Kyrgyz and the Wakhi. From the very first expeditions, certainly the contribution given by these peoples to the climbers was indispensable. To conclude, therefore, we are faced with the most difficult climb to tackle, so it is not an undertaking suitable for everyone, but only for those who have years of experience and are highly prepared to move in inaccessible places with a prohibitive climate. If you want to know all our trekking trips click here!

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