from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The K2 from the south

The K2 from the south

height 8611  m
location Gilgit-Baltistan ( Pakistan ),
Xinjiang ( PR China )
Mountains Baltoro Muztagh ( Karakoram )
Dominance 1,315.77 km →  Mount Everest
Notch height 4020 m ↓  Lo Mustang
Coordinates 35 ° 53 '0 "  N , 76 ° 31' 0"  E Coordinates: 35 ° 53 '0 "  N , 76 ° 31' 0"  E
K2 (Pakistan)
First ascent July 31, 1954 by Achille Compagnoni , Lino Lacedelli
Normal way Abruzzi route
particularities Second highest mountain in the world and highest mountain in Pakistan
The north side of the K2 as seen from China

The north side of the K2 as seen from China

Virtual flight around the K2, DLR

The K2 (China official: Qogir , Chinese  乔戈里峰 , Pinyin Qiáogēlǐ Feng ) is with 8611  meters the highest mountain in the Karakorum and after Mount Everest is the second highest mountain in the world. Mountaineers consider K2 to be far more challenging than Mount Everest, if not the most difficult of all fourteen eight-thousanders . As the second highest mountain in Asia, it is one of the Seven Second Summits .


It lies on the border between Pakistan and China in the northwest of the Karakoram.

The K2 belongs to the Baltoro Muztagh massif . Immediately to the south, three mountains of the Gasherbrum Group also reach a height of over 8000  m , so that nowhere else are there so many eight-thousanders in such a small area as in the Central Karakoram . The nature around the K2 is protected on the Pakistani side by the Central Karakoram National Park.


Original drawing by Montgomerie

K2 ( Urdu کے ٹو Ke Tu ) is the official Pakistani name of the mountain. The mountain was given this name by the British surveyor Thomas George Montgomerie , who mapped the summits in the Karakoram from a greater distance as part of the Great Trigonometrical Survey in 1856 and numbered them consecutively (the K stands for Karakoram ). The Masherbrum, apparently the highest mountain, was given the name "K1". The British surveyors were soon able to identify K2 as the highest mountain in the region.

The Balti (the people who populate the habitable valleys west of the K2) call the mountain Ketu or Kechu , derived from the English pronounced K two . The American linguist and mountaineer H. Adams Carter observed that the locals now use ketu as a loan word to denote other very high mountains.

Lambha Pahar is a name in the Pakistani official language Urdu and means 'high / big mountain'. Like the official Chinese name Qogir , it is derived from Chogori , the alleged name of the mountain in the Balti language. However, the name Chogori comes from Western researchers who invented it at the beginning of the 20th century by combining it from the words chhogo 'large' and ri 'mountain'. It found no acceptance among the local population. Carter recommended in the American Alpine Journal in 1983 not touse this name.

Occasionally the mountain is also referred to as Mount Godwin-Austen , named after Henry Haversham Godwin-Austen , who led an expedition in 1856. According to Carter, the name Godwin Austen originally only referred to the glacier on the southeast side of the mountain, and then in some Maps also used to denote the mountain.

The name Dapsang is also found as a name; the connection with the Dapsang plateau, about 150 km away, is unclear.

A few nicknames adorn the K2. While it was often referred to as savage mountain 'wilder / brutal mountain' in English , z. B. Reinhold Messner him the "mountain of mountains".


The K2 consists of inhomogeneous granites , limestone and various metamorphic rocks such as black phyllite or hornblende gneiss.

Ascent history

Early attempts to climb

East side of the K2, taken in 1909

The first known people to climb K2 were researchers like Roberto Lerco (1890) or mountaineers like William Martin Conway (1892), who also did research on the side. Nothing is known about the height it reached. The first serious attempt at ascent was made in 1902 by a British-Austrian expedition. The expedition was led by Oscar Eckenstein . The team included the Austrians Victor Wessely and Heinrich Pfannl , the Swiss doctor Jules Jacot Guillarmod and the British engineer and art collector Guy Knowles , who made the expedition possible as a financier. There was also the eccentric Briton Aleister Crowley , who was an excellent mountaineer but otherwise gained dubious fame as an occultist . The climbers turned from the south-east ridge, which seemed too steep to them for the porters, and towards the north-east ridge, but ultimately failed because of the difficulties and bad weather. The expedition explored the Godwin-Austen glacier and climbed to Skyang La ('Saddle of the Winds', 6233  m ). The highest point reached by Jacot Guillarmod and Wessely was at an altitude of about 6700  m . Pfannl barely survived pulmonary edema after being transported to lower elevations several days after the onset of the first symptoms. The various rumors that the malaria fever-ridden Crowley pointed a revolver at Knowles at an altitude of 20,000 feet on the verge of the demolition but could be disarmed cannot be substantiated from the records of the expedition members and is very likely wrong. Jacot Guillardmod made the first photographs of the K2.

In 1909, an Italian expedition led by Luigi Amedeo di Savoia , Duke of Abruzzo , reached an altitude of about 6000  m during a first attempt to climb the southeast ridge . This route on K2, which is most frequently used today, is known as the Abruzzengrat .

Twenty years later, the Duke of Spoleto carried out a scientific expedition to the K2, during which both the south and north sides of the mountain were explored. However, the expedition had no mountaineering ambitions. Among the participants was the geologist Ardito Desio .

The expeditions of 1938, 1939 and 1953

It was not until mid-June 1938 that an American team ("First American Karakoram expedition to K2") attempted to climb again, again over the Abruzzengrat. The leader of the expedition was Charles Houston . By July 20, 1938, camps were built up to a height of 7530  m (camp VII). Robert Bates and William "Bill" House climbed for the first time at an altitude of approx. 6600  m a passage that was difficult to climb with a 45-meter-high chimney armored with ice , which is now called "House's Chimney". Above Camp VII, further preparation of the summit route with fixed ropes and at least one additional camp would have been necessary, but the expedition lacked the necessary time and, above all, a long period of good weather. Charles Houston and Paul Petzold therefore dared a single advance to the summit, where Petzold reached a height of 7925  m . Houston and Petzold, however, realized that the summit was impossible to reach from Camp VII and turned back. On July 24, 1938, the expedition reached the base camp again.

Fritz Wiessner reached an altitude of 8,380 meters on K2 in 1939

Just one year later, another American expedition ("Second American Karakoram expedition to K2") headed by Fritz Wiessner was staying at the base camp (altitude 5000  m ) and prepared the ascent via the campsites of the previous year's expedition . Wiessner, Dudley Wolfe and the Sherpa Pasang Dawa Lama attacked the summit on July 14, 1939. Wolfe had to return to Camp VIII ( 7710  m ) alone because of his great weight in the deep and avalanche-prone snow . Wiessner and Pasang Dawa Lama rose over the camp IX ( 7990  m ) to the summit and reached on 19 July, 1939 around 18:30 in the evening a height of 8380  m . They were only 230 meters from the summit. Wiessner would have continued on the relatively easy summit passage at nightfall with the risk of bivouacking, but his rope partner Pasang Dawa Lama stopped him and, presumably for religious concerns, did not want to go up to the summit in the dark. Wiessner did not want to leave his partner alone and agreed to the descent in order to want to come back later. Lama's crampons were lost during the descent , so that another attempt to climb on July 21, 1939 failed. One day later they came back to the Wolfe who was waiting in Camp VIII and the three of them went to Camp VII. Here they found that the camp had already been cleared of reserve sleeping bags, air mattresses and most of the supplies from the expedition members who remained below, because of the failure of the summit attack and, due to avalanche tracks not far from camp VIII, of the deaths of Wiessner, Wolfe and Pasang Dawa Lama had run out. While Wolfe, who fell on the descent to Camp VII (and probably also suffered from altitude sickness ), stayed here, Wiessner and Pasang Dawa Lama continued to descend, but to their horror they found that all the other camps had already been cleared . Under unspeakable circumstances, lack of sleep and the risk of frostbite, they reached the base camp again on July 24, 1939, completely exhausted. From here several Sherpas immediately went to see Wolfe, who was waiting in Camp VIII, and reached him on July 29, 1939 in a completely apathetic condition. However, Wolfe refused the descent or was no longer able to do so himself. Three Sherpas rose to Wolfe again on July 31, 1939, but have remained missing since then. Another rescue attempt by Wiessner and Pasang Dawa Lama had to be canceled at Camp 2 at an altitude of 5880  m due to a snow storm. Neither Wiessner nor Pasang Dawa Lama have ever reached the height of 8,380  m again .

In June 1953 an American expedition ("Third American Karakoram expedition to K2") under Charles Houston, who had already led the team from 1938, attempted the ascent again. By the beginning of August, various camps were built up to a height of approx. 7,800 meters (camp VIII). Bad weather delayed the final attack on the summit, so that due to the long stay at high altitudes, a termination of the expedition was considered. On August 7, 1953, Arthur Gilkey suffered a collapse due to thrombosis (and presumably pulmonary embolism ), so the team decided to abort and relegate. The immobilized Gilkey was roped down in a sleeping bag, but died in an avalanche. The surviving 6 members of the expedition reached base camp again on August 15, 1953. Gilkey's remains were discovered in 1993.

Also in 1953 Riccardo Cassin and Ardito Desio undertook a research expedition to prepare further expeditions.

First ascent

Route of the first ascent with high camps

The first successful ascent took place on July 31, 1954 by Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli , who were part of a great Italian expedition. The expedition was led by Ardito Desio , who was at K2 for research purposes in 1929 and 1953. A scandal was connected with the success of the summit: Walter Bonatti and the Pakistani Hunzukuc carrier Amir Mehdi , who provided crucial help with the ascent, were deliberately put in danger of death and only survived with luck.

It had been agreed that Bonatti and Mehdi should bring oxygen bottles to a tent camp at an altitude of 8100 meters. When the two arrived at the agreed place, they found that their mountaineering colleagues had moved the agreed tent camp without prior agreement, so that it had become inaccessible for them. Compagnoni presumably feared that the younger and fitter Bonatti might have challenged his fame on the summit ascent. Since it was already evening, a descent was no longer possible. The two therefore had to bivouac at a height of 8100 meters without a tent at temperatures of around −50 ° C. Mehdi in particular suffered severe frostbite due to his inadequate clothing. They descended the following day without having been to the summit. They left the oxygen bottles behind, which their colleagues then used.

Mehdi had to have all frozen toes amputated and spent eight months in the Rawalpindi military hospital . Bonatti was deeply disappointed after this experience and became a loner on future mountain climbs.

Further ascents

In the following years, many mountaineers initially turned to the 8000ers that had not yet been climbed. It was not until 1960 that an attempt was made to climb K2 again, but it failed. In the following 15 years an ascent was not possible because as a result of the developments that led to the Second Indo-Pakistani War , the Pakistani government closed the Karakoram Mountains from 1961 to 1974. Further attempts were not made until 1975 and 1976. The second ascent was made by a Japanese expedition in 1977 on the way of the first climber.

The first ascent without the help of bottled oxygen was achieved by the American Louis Reichardt on September 6, 1978 - about four months after Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler first ascent of Mount Everest without additional oxygen . Reichardt and his rope partner James Wickwire carried a small amount of oxygen with them that they wanted to use only when necessary in the final part of the ascent. While Wickwire was able to use his oxygen equipment from an altitude of around 8000  m , Reichardt's breathing apparatus failed. Reichardt left it behind, continued to climb and reached the summit with Wickwire. The next day, the expedition's second rope team, consisting of Rick Ridgeway and John Roskelly, also succeeded without resorting to oxygen equipment. The route of the Americans led over the northeast ridge (northeast of the Abruzzo ridge) to the shoulder and on to the summit. The expedition was led by Everest veteran James Whittaker .

Wanda Rutkiewicz was the first woman to reach the summit on June 23, 1986, and Liliane Barrard the same day after her , but she and her husband Maurice Barrard had a fatal accident on the descent. Liliane's body was later recovered from the foot of the south wall; her husband's body was not found until 1998. In 1986 a total of 13 climbers died, most of them due to the most difficult weather conditions at the beginning of August.

On July 8, 1986 Jerzy Kukuczka and Tadeusz Piotrowski reached the summit for the first time via the then still unclimbed south face. You were part of an expedition led by Karl Maria Herrligkoffer . This new ascent route is one of the greatest challenges on the K2 because it is extremely difficult and extremely dangerous. To date, no other mountaineer has been able to repeat this route - which Reinhold Messner described as suicidal.

With Julie Tullis had Kurt Diemberger reached the summit of K2 on August 4 1986th The descent from K2 turned into a tragedy due to a storm lasting several days. Tullis died on the night of 6/7. August after a fall and an outdoor swimming pool in 8350 meters of exhaustion and dehydration at night in the tent on the K2 shoulder, and four other climbers from several teams active on the mountain at the same time were killed. Only Kurt Diemberger and Willi Bauer were able to cope with the descent with the last of their strength.

The first ascent of K2 in the so-called alpine style , in which, in addition to renouncing the use of oxygen bottles, preparing the route with high camps and fixed ropes , was not made until 1991. The two Frenchmen Pierre Beghin and Christophe Profit reached the summit on August 15, 1991 an ascent path in which they connected different routes on the northwest ridge and in the north face with trusses .

Big Sérac above the bottleneck at approx. 8300 meters

On October 2, 2007 Denis Urubko and Serguey Samoilov climbed the K2 from the north side. Never before had the summit been reached so late in the year.

On August 1, 2008, the biggest accident so far occurred at K2 - on that day and the following night, a total of eleven climbers died in relative proximity to the summit. A climber fell about 200 meters in the area of ​​the bottle neck while climbing. During the rescue operation initiated by high camp IV immediately afterwards, a helping local mountaineer fell to his death. Later that same day, a large ice avalanche broke up above the bottle neck and killed several climbers attempting to reach the top. As a result, the way back was cut off at this point for some mountaineers who had already been on the summit, as the ice avalanche had carried away all fixed ropes and anchors. Four climbers survived the night and were rescued; the other mountaineers probably fell or froze to death on the unsecured descent at an altitude of over 8,200  m . The eleven dead were three Korean, one French, one Norwegian, one Serbian and one Irish mountaineer (he was the first Irishman to climb K2) as well as two Nepalese Sherpa and two Pakistani high porters.

On August 23, 2011, the Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner reached the summit of K2 via the north side and was the first woman to climb all eight-thousanders without the aid of additional oxygen.

On July 25, 2019, Anja Blacha became the first German woman to reach the summit of K2; it was also climbed without the aid of bottled oxygen. A few hours earlier on the same day, Herbert Hellmuth was the seventh German to climb to the summit. Most recently, Ralf Dujmovits was a German at K2 in 1994 .


With 302 ascents, 298 different mountaineers have stood on the summit of K2, including 11 women. Only 4 climbers stood on the summit twice.

A total of 80 people have died on K2 during ascents and attempts. 32 climbers, including 3 women, died on the descent.

The biggest accident so far was the K2 tragedy in 2008 .

(As of August 14, 2010)

The K2 is the only 8000er that has never been climbed in winter.


Routes on the south side (from left to right):
A: West ridge; B: west wall; C: south-southwest pillar; D: south wall; E: south-southeast ridge; F: southeast ridge
The Czech Libor Uher on the summit of K2, Chogolisa on the left ,
Masherbrum on the right
Routes traveled so far
route First
in the photo
Southeast ridge (Abruzzi spur) 1954 F.
North-east ridge to the Abruzzi route 1978
West ridge 1981 A.
North ridge 1982
Northwest wall to / to the north ridge / north wall 1990
Northwest ridge to the north ridge 1991
South-southeast ridge to the Abruzzi route ( Cesen ) 1994 E.
South wall 1986 D.
South-southwest pillar 1986 C.
West ridge / wall variation 1997
West wall 2007 B.

The most popular route is the first to climb over the southeast ridge (Abruzzi spur). This path then leads to the shoulder (approx. 7900  m ). This shoulder can also be reached via the Cesen route. The summit is usually approached from here.

Documentaries and feature films

  • K2 - A cry from the top of the world . 2009.
  • Robert Campos, Donna LoCicero: Disaster on K2 . 2009
  • Nick Ryan: The Summit . 2012. Documentary film about the accident in 2008, in which 11 climbers were killed.
  • Adrian Ballinger: Breathtaking: K2 - The World's Most Dangerous Mountain . In: YouTube . 2020. (Video; 44:39 min; English)

An ascent of K2 was made into a film in 1991 in the film K2 - The Last Adventure with Michael Biehn and Matt Craven in the leading roles. The fictional plot of the film Vertical Limit from 2000 also takes place on and on K2, but was shot on Aoraki / Mount Cook in New Zealand. In the movie Sub Zero from 2005, the aim is to deactivate the remote control of a satellite weapon on the summit of K2. Jim Wynorski's B-movie was not shot on K2, but in Canada.


  • Willi Bauer , Gertrude Reinisch: Light and shadow at K2 . Umschau, 1997, ISBN 978-3-7016-2295-5 , pp. 250 .
  • Ardito Desio : K2 - Second Mountain on Earth . Nymphenburger Verlag, 1956, p. 232 (report of the first climbers).
  • Kurt Diemberger : K2 - Dream and Fate. Bruckmann, 2004. ISBN 978-3-492-40529-4 .
  • Hans Kammerlander: By a thread. K2 and other borderline experiences. Piper, Munich 2004.
  • Roberto Mantovani, Kurt Diemberger: K2 - Himalaya. The big challenge. Gondrom, Bindlach 2004.
  • Reinhold Messner, Alessandro Gogna: Mountain of Mountains. 1980.
  • Reinhold Messner: K2 Chogori. The big mountain. Frederking & Thaler, 2004.
  • Rollo Steffens: Fascination Karakoram. The wild mountains of Asia. Bruckmann, Munich 2000.
  • Graham Bowley: No Going Back - Living and Dying at K2. German edition 2011 (Original: No Way Down - Live and Death on K2 )
  • Charlie Buffet: Jules Jacot Guillarmod. Pioneer at K2 . AS Verlag, Zurich 2012, ISBN 978-3-906055-02-2 .


  • Don Airey : K2 - Tales of Triumph and Tragedy . 1989

Web links

Wiktionary: K2  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : K2  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f Pointdexter, Joseph: Between heaven and earth. The 50 highest peaks. Könemann, Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-8290-3561-6 , p. 15
  2. ^ H. Adams Carter: A Note on the Chinese Name for K2, "Qogir." In: American Alpine Journal. 1983, p. 296 ( AAJ Online (PDF); Accessed February 13, 2012).
  3. ^ H. Adams Carter: Balti Place Names in the Karakoram. In: American Alpine Journal. 1975, pp. 52–60, rackcdn.com (PDF; 1.7 MB) accessed on February 13, 2012.
  4. Gattinger, TE: Geological cross section of the Karakoram from the Indus to the Shaksgam. Yearbook of the Federal Geological Institute. Vienna. 1961: p. 68f.
  5. Gattinger, TE: Geological cross section of the Karakoram from the Indus to the Shaksgam. Yearbook of the Federal Geological Institute. Vienna. 1961: p. 107
  6. Charlie Buffet: Jules Jacot Guillarmod. Pioneer at K2 . AS Verlag, Zurich 2012, ISBN 978-3-906055-02-2 , p. 91 .
  7. Charlie Buffet: Jules Jacot Guillarmod . Pioneer at K2. AS Verlag, Zurich 2012, ISBN 978-3-906055-02-2 , p. 86, 88 .
  8. ^ Roberto Mantovani, Kurt Diemberger : K2 - Himalaja. The big challenge . Gondrom, Bindlach 2004, ISBN 3-8112-2330-5 , p. 35 .
  9. ^ Garth Hatting: Top Climbs. The most famous peaks in the world. Legendary routes. First ascents . Bruckmann, Munich 2000, ISBN 3-7654-3463-9 , pp. 40 f .
  10. Charlie Buffet: Jules Jacot Guillarmod. Pioneer at K2 . AS Verlag, Zurich 2012, ISBN 978-3-906055-02-2 , p. 139 f .
  11. Charlie Buffet: Jules Jacot Guillarmod. Pioneer at K2 . AS Verlag, Zurich 2012, ISBN 978-3-906055-02-2 , p. 66 .
  12. a b c Pointdexter, Joseph: Between heaven and earth. The 50 highest peaks. Könemann, Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-8290-3561-6 , p. 17
  13. a b c Pointdexter, Joseph: Between heaven and earth. The 50 highest peaks. Könemann, Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-8290-3561-6 , p. 18
  14. Shahzeb Jillani: Amir Mehdi: Left out to freeze on K2 and forgotten. BBC News, August 14, 2014, accessed August 14, 2014 .
  15. ^ Roberto Mantovani, Kurt Diemberger: K2 - Himalaya. The big challenge. Gondrom, Bindlach 2004, p. 75ff.
  16. a b Super User: Herrligkoffer-Karakorum-Expedition 1986. Retrieved on March 14, 2017 .
  17. Jerzy Kukuczka: My Vertical World: Climbing the 8000-meter Peaks . Mountaineers, 1992, ISBN 978-0-89886-344-4 ( com.br [accessed March 14, 2017]).
  18. Trent'anni dopo, la sfida mai vista al K2. Retrieved March 14, 2017 .
  19. ^ Kurt Diemberger: The black summer . In: Kurt Diemberger (Ed.): Departure into the Unknown. Adventure between K2, Sinkian and the Amazon . Piper, Munich 2004, p. 200-248 .
  20. ^ Beghin, Pierre: Solitude on K2. In: American Alpine Journal. 1992, pp. 19–25 ( AAJ Online (PDF); PDF; 1.1 MB, accessed on February 13, 2012).
  21. Graham Bowley, Andrea Can Apell: Chaos on the 'Mountain That Invites Death'. In: The New York Times. August 5, 2008.
  22. ^ Ed Viesturs, David Roberts: K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain. Broadway, New York 2010, ISBN 978-0-7679-3260-8 .
  23. Kaltenbrunner manages all eight-thousanders without an oxygen mask. In: Spiegel Online , 23 August 2011
  24. Stefan Nestler: Further summit successes on K 2: With and without bottled oxygen. In: Adventure Mountain. July 25, 2019, accessed on May 14, 2020 (German).
  25. Statistics on K2. In: 8000ers.com
  26. Routes - K2. In: 8000ers.com
  27. Disaster on K2 in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  28. The Summit in the Internet Movie Database (English)