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K2: Why It's the World's Toughest Mountain to Climb?

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Amara is a blogger and a writer. She loves traveling, adventures, and exploring new places.

K2 is the world's second highest mountain.

K2 is the world's second highest mountain.

K2 mountain is a fascinating place and a dream to accomplish for many mountaineers. With a height of 8611 meters (28,251ft), above sea level, it is the second-highest mountain on planet earth, after Mount Everest.

  • Location: Pakistan-China border, Gilgit−Baltistan, Pakistan
  • Elevation: 8,610 m (28,250 ft)
  • Prominence: 4,020 m (13,190 ft)
  • Parent range: Karakoram
  • First ascent: 31 July 1954, by Achille Compagnoni & Lino Lacedelli
  • Easiest route: Abruzzi Spur

It was discovered in 1856 by Col. T.G Montgomerie, as a part of a British survey of India, and was given the name K2 because it was the second peak measured in the Karakorum mountain range.

Located within the Karakorum range, in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan and the Taxgorkan Tajik Autonomous County region of Xinjian, China, this majestic mountain is a great tourist attraction for adventurous mountaineers for trekking, all around the globe.

K2 is also known as Savage Mountain, and itself is a challenge to climb. Many climbers claim that it is a savage mountain that tries to kill you. Out of the five highest mountains on the planet, K2 is the deadliest one. It takes the life of one for every four persons who reach the summit.

“It’s a savage mountain that tries to kill you.”

— US climber, George Bell

Challenges to Face

The mountain is pyramid-shaped, remote, and challenging. It is prone to avalanches, severe and frequent storms. Its treacherous slopes, extremely difficult topography, and poor weather conditions make it challenging and the world's most difficult mountain to climb.

Its extremely high altitude results in a lack of oxygen. As compared to sea level, there is only one-third of oxygen available to a climber on the summit of K2. Its severe several days' long storms often result in many deaths on the peak.

K2 is about 800 feet lower than Mount Everest, but it is even harder to climb, due to its tougher topography. It is very steep and very little of it flattens off, whereas climbing Everest, there are stretches that are steep and then it flattens off.

At 24,000 feet K2 flatten off briefly, but that area is like a death zone, as it is very prone to rockfall and avalanches, and weather condition there is terrible and totally unpredictable. As compared to Mount Everest, only a small fraction of people successfully made it to reach the top.

The First Ascent

The first attempt to reach the summit was made in 1902 by an Anglo-Swiss expedition that could make it to 18,600 feet. It was until 1954, when an Italian expedition, including one Pakistani, managed to conquer the mountain despite extreme weather conditions.

The Italian climber, Fosco Maraini, argued that while the name of K2 owes its origin to chance, its clipped, impersonal nature is highly appropriate for so remote and challenging a mountain. He concluded that it was,

 just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man—or of the cindered planet after the last.

— Fosco Maraini

Different routes to peak

Different routes to peak

Climbing Routes

There are many routes to climb the mountain. Whereas, all major routes and base camps lie on the Pakistani side. The most famous route of all is Abruzzi spur, and 75% of climbers use this route. The route follows alternating series of snowfields, rock ribs, and some technical rock climbing, starting at the altitude of 54,00 metres, where the base camp is located.

On the opposite side of Abruzzi spur, is the North Ridge, which ascends the Chinese side of the mountain. This route is rarely climbed due to its extremely difficult access. Other routes like Northeast ridge, West ridge, Southwest pillar of "Magic Line", South face or "Polish Line" or "Central Rib", Northwest face, Northwest ridge, South-southeast spur or " Cesen Route", and West face are hardly approached because of the extreme difficulty of the routes.

K2 Base Camp Trekking

K2 is the crown of magnificent Karakorum, and an expedition to its base camp at the height of 5,150m (16896ft) makes it one of the most thrilling and exciting treks in the world. It is one of the most rewarding journeys with a spectacular view of glorious mountains.

Reaching the top of the mountain is not everyone's cup of tea, but the K2 base camp trek can allow you to experience an exciting expedition without climbing peaks. It is a wild trek but not a savage one.

It is a base camp for climbers, where climbers can spend most of their time in their tents. Unlike Everest, this is a remote and uninhabited area, so there are no baths, tea houses, or any comfortable place, so you can only experience mountains in pure nature's wilderness. Tents, food, and everything else you need will have to be carried along with you if you want to experience this savage mountain.

The Best Time for Trekking

The best time for K2 base camp trekking is in the summer—the months of May, June, July, and August. But it is also possible to trek in the months of September and October. Winters are not suitable as the temperature falls sub-zero.

K2 base camp

K2 base camp

A New World Record

In January 2021, a team of 10 Nepali climbers set a new world record by becoming the first to reach the summit of the world's second-highest mountain, K2, in winter. The temperature of the summit was recorded -40° Celsius. Until now it was considered impossible to climb this mountain in winter, so it was the most demanding of all in the winter season.

First Ever Ski Descent of K2

On July 22, 2018, a Polish ski mountaineer, Andrzej Barguel, made a history by skiing down world's second highest mountain from its summit to base camp. He is the first ever person who managed to do so from an altitude of 8,611m, even the best ski mountaineers considered it as an impossible descent.

More on Mountaineering and K2


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Amara


Amara (author) from Pakistan on May 25, 2021:

Yes, Vidya g they are indeed brave enough to set a new World record, in such a deadly weather condition.. It was -40°C recorded there.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving this lovely comment.. :-)

VIDYA D SAGAR on May 25, 2021:

A very interesting and informative article Amara. The Nepali team which reached the summit in winter is really a brave one. It is so scary just thinking of the dangers they just have faced.

Amara (author) from Pakistan on May 25, 2021:

Thank you very much Chitra di for such warm words of appreciation..

Love and Peace.. ;-)

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on May 25, 2021:

A well written and informative article about the K2 mountains. I have never done mountain climbing but have seen the spectacular Himalayan ranges, while in flight.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful information with the readers.

Amara (author) from Pakistan on May 25, 2021:

Wow Gyanendra, that sounds amazing..

Thanks for your visit and sharing your experience as a guide over there..

Have a great day.. :-)

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on May 24, 2021:

Magnificient article, like the mountain itself.

I am not a climber, but I've been till the Everest Base Camp thrice as guide.

I used to share with the listeners about 15 years ago, "Climbing is a game in which the climber himself/ herself is the refree. Slightest mistake, penalty is death!"

One of my llisteners has climbed Everest for the third time on 24th of May'21!

Thank you Amara!

Amara (author) from Pakistan on May 24, 2021:

Have you seen Mount Everest in real? Well thats fascinating, if you have..

Mountain climbing is not a easy thing to do, especially to those who have height phobias..

Thanks for your visit Peggy..

Love and Peace..

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on May 24, 2021:

I remember seeing Mount Everest and a graveyard in Zermatt, where many mountain climbers who had died in the mountain-climbing attempt chose to be buried. It sounds like K2 has killed even more people. Mountain climbing holds no interest for me.

Amara (author) from Pakistan on May 24, 2021:

Thank you Bill.. K2 is a challenge in itself..

I really appreciate your visit Bill.. Have a great day..

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 24, 2021:

Fascinating article, Amara! I have climbed mountains but never of the size or stature of K2.

Amara (author) from Pakistan on May 24, 2021:

Thank you very much EK.. I really appreciate your visit and comment..

Love and blessings sis..

EK Jadoon from Abbottabad Pakistan on May 24, 2021:

That was a nice read, Amara. Mountain climbing is my dream. I hope one day it will come true.

Stay healthy and safe...

Eman Sehar on May 24, 2021:


Amara (author) from Pakistan on May 23, 2021:

Thank you very much Eman.. I am glad to know that you liked it..

Amara (author) from Pakistan on May 23, 2021:

Thank you very much dear sis.. Thanks for such a lovely comment..

And Yesss..!! I would love to go to this adventurous expedition.. ;-)

Allah bless you and protect you always..

Misbah Sheikh from — This Existence Is Only an Illusion on May 23, 2021:

Wow... Amara. Great work. Very well written and well researched

Will you like to climb K2 with me someday ;)

Thanks for sharing

Blessings and Love dear sister

Eman Sehar on May 23, 2021:

Informative article