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Islamabad Shah Faisal Mosque

Islamabad Shah Faisal Mosque (click to enlarge)


Nanga Parbat Diamir Face And Mazeno Ridge On Flight From Islamabad To Skardu

Nanga Parbat Diamir Face And Mazeno Ridge On Flight From Islamabad To Skardu (click to enlarge)


The Khardong Hill with the Kharpocho Fort is beautifully reflected in the calm Indus River in Skardu (2286m). Skardu is the district headquarters of Baltistan, situated on the banks of the mighty Indus River, just 8 km (5 miles) above its confluence with the Shigar River. The Indus barely seems to move across the immense, flat Skardu valley, 40km long, 10 km wide and carpeted with sand dunes. There are several beautiful blue lakes nearby, including Satpara, and Upper and Lower Kachura.

The Khardong Hill with the Kharpocho Fort is beautifully reflected in the calm Indus River in Skardu (2286m). (click to enlarge)


Sand Dunes Near Skardu

Sand Dunes Near Skardu (click to enlarge)


Road Is Carved Out of Rock In The Braldu Gorge On The Road To Askole

Road Is Carved Out of Rock In The Braldu Gorge On The Road To Askole (click to enlarge)


We arrive in Thongol and quickly unload the jeep and set up the kitchen tent and my tent where I rest for a few minutes. Ahhh. Iqbal puts together the loads a little bit like a jigsaw puzzle trying to even them out to 25kg each. There are nine loads so Iqbal has to find five more porters. He tells me he's having trouble because the porters want to wait for the mountaineering expedition we met on the flight to Skardu. Here is our team at Thongol: below - Jerome Ryan, guide Iqbal, cook Ali; above - porters Syed, Muhammad Khan, and Muhammad Siddiq, and finally our sirdar Ali Naqi.

Our team: Jerome Ryan, guide Iqbal, cook Ali; above - porters Syed, Muhammad Khan, and Muhammad Siddiq, and finally our sirdar Ali Naqi. (click to enlarge)


Climbing Zig Zag Steps Cut Out Of A Rock Blocking The Trail From Askole To Korophon With Choricho

Climbing Zig Zag Steps Cut Out Of A Rock Blocking The Trail From Askole To Korophon With Choricho (click to enlarge)


Ali And Naqi Help Porters Cross The Swollen River Descending From Paiju Glacier

Ali And Naqi Help Porters Cross The Swollen River Descending From Paiju Glacier (click to enlarge)


K2 Pokes Out To The Right Of The Cathedral Just Before Sunset From Paiju

K2 Pokes Out To The Right Of The Cathedral Just Before Sunset From Paiju (click to enlarge)


The Trango Tower (6239 m), commonly called Nameless Tower, is a very large, pointed spire which juts 1000m out of the ridgeline. The Trango Monk (5850m) is to the left. The Trango Nameless Tower was first climbed in 1976 with Mo Anthoine, Martin Boysen reaching the summit on July 8, 1976 and Joe Brown and Malcolm Howells the next day.

The Trango Nameless Tower (6239 m) is a very large, pointed spire which juts 1000m out of the ridgeline. The Trango Monk (5850m) is to the left. (click to enlarge)


Jerome Ryan Poses Above Lake On Baltoro Glacier With Great Trango Tower And Trango Castle Behind

Jerome Ryan Poses Above Lake On Baltoro Glacier With Great Trango Tower And Trango Castle Behind (click to enlarge)


Paiju Peak From Khoburtse At Sunrise

Paiju Peak From Khoburtse At Sunrise (click to enlarge)


Uli Biaho Tower Close Up From Khoburtse Just After Sunrise

Uli Biaho Tower Close Up From Khoburtse Just After Sunrise (click to enlarge)


The West Face of Gasherbrum IV shines at sunset from Goro II. The first ascent of Gasherbrum IV was made via the northeast ridge on August 6, 1958 by famed Italian mountaineer Walter Bonatti and Carlo Mauri on a strong Italian team led by legendary climber Riccardo Cassin. ‘A desperate struggle between the mountain and ourselves, but we were all winners, and at 12.30 exactly the little pennants of Italy, Pakistan and the C.A.I. fluttered on the Summit itself. Fluttered – no, blew out in the howling gale.’ - Karakoram: The Ascent Of Gasherbrum IV by Fosco Maraini.

The West Face of Gasherbrum IV shines at sunset from Goro II. (click to enlarge)


The next morning dawned clear with the first rays of the sun hitting Masherbrum with its ice cream cone top glistening in the sun from Goro II. The summit of Masherbrum's sheer north face is a perfect pyramid, with steep narrow ridges rising suddenly to a sharp pinnacle. It was first climbed via the south west face on July 6, 1960 by George Bell and Willi Unsoeld on an American - Pakistani expedition. Two few days later on July 8, expedition leader Nick Clinch and Pakistani Captain Jawed Akhter Khan also reached the summit.

Masherbrum with its ice cream cone top glistens at sunrise from Goro II. The summit is a perfect pyramid with steep narrow ridges rising suddenly to a sharp pinnacle. (click to enlarge)


Taken from the upper Baltoro Glacier, the twin summits of Muztagh Tower (7274m) are perfectly aligned and the mountain is seen as a slender tooth, looking impregnable. A similar photo by Vittorio Sella in 1909 inspired two expeditions to race for the first ascent in 1956. In reality both teams found their routes less steep than Sella's view had suggested. Joe Brown and Ian McNaught-Davis climbed from the west side of the peak and reached the west summit of Muztagh Tower (7270m) on July 6, 1956. Tom Patey and John Hartog repeated the ascent the next day, also reaching the slightly higher east summit (7274m). A few days later a French Team of Guido Magnone, Robert Paragot, André Contamine, and Paul Keller climbed the mountain from the east.

Taken from the upper Baltoro Glacier, the twin summits of Muztagh Tower (7274m) are perfectly aligned and the mountain is seen as a slender tooth, looking impregnable. (click to enlarge)


Concordia Campsite below Mitre Peak

Concordia Campsite below Mitre Peak (click to enlarge)


Just after leaving Concordia, I looked up the Godwin Austin Glacier as the sun finally hit the K2 West Face, with Angel Peak (Angelus Peak) coming into view on the left. The K2 Southwest Pillar separates the sunlit South Face from the West Face mostly in shadow to the left. The South-southeast Spur is now lit up by the sun and arrives at the K2 Shoulder on the right. On the far right is the Abruzzi Ridge / Spur, the East-southeast ridge, the normal ascent route.

Full view of K2 West Face and South Face from just beyond Concordia with Angel Peak on the left. (click to enlarge)


The K2 West Face shines in the late afternoon sun from Concordia. The K2 West Ridge is on the far left. The Southwest Pillar separates the sunny west face from the K2 South Face. The Great Serac is just in shadow to the right below the K2 Summit. The K2 Shoulder is farther down to the right, partially in the sun. The K2 West Ridge was first climbed by Japanese Eiho Otani and Pakistani Nazir Sabir, reaching the K2 summit on August 7, 1981.

K2 West Face from Concordia with K2 West Ridge on left, the Southwest Pillar, the South Face, the Great Serac, and the K2 Shoulder. (click to enlarge)


Sunrise On K2 Summit From Concordia

Sunrise On K2 Summit From Concordia (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum II pokes out to the right of The West Face of Gasherbrum IV shining in the late afternoon sun from Concordia.

Gasherbrum II pokes out to the right of The West Face of Gasherbrum IV shining in the late afternoon sun from Concordia. (click to enlarge)


Just after leaving Concordia, the sun finally hit Broad Peak. The North Summit is on the far left, the Central Summit is slightly out of view in the middle, and on the far right is the Main Summit. The first ascent of Broad Peak North summit was made by Renato Casarotto on June 28, 1983. The first traverse of the three Broad Peak summits was completed by Jerzy Kukuczka and Wojtek Kurtyka. They climbed the west ridge to the North summit, continued along the ridge to the Central summit. The pair then descended to Broad Col from where they followed the original route over the Forepeak to the main summit on July 17, 1984.

Broad Peak just after leaving Concordia with the North Summit on the left, the Central Summit slightly out of view in the middle, and the Main Summit on the right (click to enlarge)


We intermixed with a Japanese Gasherbrum expedition to cross a small stream in a part of the Upper Baltoro Glacier where you realize that you are in fact trekking on a real glacier beneath the rubble.

Crossing A Small River On The Upper Baltoro Glacier (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum IV Summit Close Up From Upper Baltoro Glacier On Trek To Shagring Camp

Gasherbrum IV Summit Close Up From Upper Baltoro Glacier On Trek To Shagring Camp (click to enlarge)


There was a large green glacial lake on the Upper Baltoro Glacier with Mitre Peak behind, as we trekked towards Shagring Camp.

Green Glacial Lake On Upper Baltoro Glacier With Mitre Peak Behind (click to enlarge)


We camped at Shagring (4853m) near the junction of the Upper Baltoro and Abruzzi Glaciers. Baltoro Kangri towers just beyond the camp.

Shagring Camp On The Upper Baltoro Glacier With Baltoro Kangri (click to enlarge)


Chogolisa I (7665m) is on the left and Chogolisa II (7654m) is on the right, seen from Shagring camp on the Upper Baltoro Glacier. On August 4, 1958 a Japanese expedition organized by the Academic Alpine Club of Kyoto led by Takeo Kawabara made the first ascent of Chogolisa II, with Masao Fujihira and Kazumasa Hirai reaching the summit. The first ascent of Chogolisa I (7665m) was made on August 2, 1975 by Fred Pressl and Gustav Ammerer of an Austrian expedition led by Eduard Koblmuller. Koblmuller almost suffered the same fate as Hermann Buhl, as he also fell through a cornice on the ascent; fortunately, he was roped and team members were able to pull him to safety.

Chogolisa I (7665m) is on the left and Chogolisa II (7654m) is on the right, seen from Shagring camp on the Upper Baltoro Glacier. (click to enlarge)


The next morning we started our trek from Shagring Camp to Gasherbrum Base Camp in mostly cloudy weather. After 30 minutes we reached ‘Gasherbrum Corner’ at the junction of the Upper Baltoro Glacier with the tributary Abruzzi Glacier. Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum I South lie straight ahead. Gasherbrum I (8080m) is the 11th highest mountain in the world. Gasherbrum I was first climbed by July 5, 1958 by Americans Pete Schoening and Andy Kauffman. Gasherbrum I South (7069m) was first climbed by Maurice Barrard and Georges Narbaud via the Southwest Ridge in July 1980 on their ascent of Gasherbrum I

Gasherbrum I and Gasherbrum I South from the junction of Upper Baltoro Glacier and the Abruzzi Glacier (click to enlarge)


We stopped for a coke in a green oasis on the drive from Thongol to Skardu to celebrate our successful trek. From left to right: cook Ali, porter Hayder Khan, sirdar Ali Naqi, porter  Muhammad Khan, Jerome Ryan, porter Muhammad Siddiq, and guide Iqbal.

Jerome Ryan And Crew Celebrating A Successful Trek On The Way Back To Skardu (click to enlarge)


Kashgar Id Kah Mosque

Kashgar Id Kah Mosque (click to enlarge)


Kashgar Urban Planning Museum With The Old Town Behind From Donghu East Lake

Kashgar Urban Planning Museum With The Old Town Behind From Donghu East Lake (click to enlarge)


Kashgar Id Kah Square And Clocktower In 1993

Kashgar Id Kah Square And Clocktower In 1993 (click to enlarge)


Kashgar Old City Street Scene 1993 Old Men Talking

Kashgar Old City Street Scene 1993 Old Men Talking (click to enlarge)


Kashgar From Top Of Bazaar Tower 1993

Kashgar From Top Of Bazaar Tower 1993 (click to enlarge)


Kashgar Sunday Market 1993 Young Boy Selling Vegetables

Kashgar Sunday Market 1993 Young Boy Selling Vegetables (click to enlarge)


Kashgar Sunday Market 1993 Horse Trading

Kashgar Sunday Market 1993 Horse Trading (click to enlarge)


Marker Zero 0 For Highway 219 In Karghilik Yecheng At The Junction Of China National Highway 315

Marker Zero 0 For Highway 219 In Karghilik Yecheng At The Junction Of China National Highway 315 (click to enlarge)


Looking At The Zig Zag Descent From The Akmeqit Pass 3295m On Highway 219 After Leaving Karghilik Yecheng

Looking At The Zig Zag Descent From The Akmeqit Pass 3295m On Highway 219 After Leaving Karghilik Yecheng (click to enlarge)


View From The Chiragsaldi Pass 4994m Towards Mazar On Highway 219 On The Way To Yilik

View From The Chiragsaldi Pass 4994m Towards Mazar On Highway 219 On The Way To Yilik (click to enlarge)


Jerome Ryan And Yilik Headman Daniyur On The Way To K2 North Face China Trek

Jerome Ryan And Yilik Headman Daniyur On The Way To K2 North Face China Trek (click to enlarge)


Yilik Headman Daughter And Her Child In A Swing In Their Sleeping Area On The Way To K2 North Face China Trek

Yilik Headman Daughter And Her Child In A Swing In Their Sleeping Area On The Way To K2 North Face China Trek (click to enlarge)


Yilik Headmans House And Yilik Village Evening On The Way To K2 North Face China Trek

Yilik Headmans House And Yilik Village Evening On The Way To K2 North Face China Trek (click to enlarge)


School Outside In Yilik Village On The Way To K2 North Face China Trek

School Outside In Yilik Village On The Way To K2 North Face China Trek (click to enlarge)


Looking Down At The Surakwat River From The Terrace 3766m Between Yilik Village And Sarak On Trek To K2 North Face In China

Looking Down At The Surakwat River From The Terrace 3766m Between Yilik Village And Sarak On Trek To K2 North Face In China (click to enlarge)


Kotaz Camp 4330m Way Ahead Towards Aghil Pass On Trek To K2 North Face In China

Kotaz Camp 4330m Way Ahead Towards Aghil Pass On Trek To K2 North Face In China (click to enlarge)


View Of Descent From Aghil Pass Towards Shaksgam Valley On Trek To K2 North Face In China

View Of Descent From Aghil Pass Towards Shaksgam Valley On Trek To K2 North Face In China (click to enlarge)


View Of Shaksgam Valley To The West Towards Gasherbrums From Terrace Above The Shaksgam River On Trek To K2 North Face In China

View Of Shaksgam Valley To The West Towards Gasherbrums From Terrace Above The Shaksgam River On Trek To K2 North Face In China (click to enlarge)


Walking West Along The Wide Expanse Of The Shaksgam Valley 4000m After Descending From Aghil Pass On Trek To K2 North Face In China

Walking West Along The Wide Expanse Of The Shaksgam Valley 4000m After Descending From Aghil Pass On Trek To K2 North Face In China (click to enlarge)


Tents At Kerqin Camp 3968m Late Afternoon Looking East To Mountains In The Shaksgam Valley On Trek To K2 North Face In China

Tents At Kerqin Camp 3968m Late Afternoon Looking East To Mountains In The Shaksgam Valley On Trek To K2 North Face In China (click to enlarge)


Camel Man, Jerome Ryan, Guide Muhammad Resting In Wide Shaksgam Valley After Leaving Kerqin Camp On Trek To K2 North Face In China

Camel Man, Jerome Ryan, Guide Muhammad Resting In Wide Shaksgam Valley After Leaving Kerqin Camp On Trek To K2 North Face In China (click to enlarge)


Camel Man Rides His Donkey Leading The Four Camels In Wide Shaksgam Valley Between Kerqin And River Junction Camps On Trek To K2 North Face In China

Camel Man Rides His Donkey Leading The Four Camels In Wide Shaksgam Valley Between Kerqin And River Junction Camps On Trek To K2 North Face In China (click to enlarge)


River Junction Camp Is Up Ahead On The Left In The Shaksgam Valley On Trek To K2 North Face In China

River Junction Camp Is Up Ahead On The Left In The Shaksgam Valley On Trek To K2 North Face In China (click to enlarge)


Loading The Camels At River Junction Camp Looking To The West Early Morning In The Shaksgam Valley On Trek To K2 North Face In China

Loading The Camels At River Junction Camp Looking To The West Early Morning In The Shaksgam Valley On Trek To K2 North Face In China (click to enlarge)


Sunrise On The Mountains Southwest Of Sughet Jangal K2 North Face China Base Camp

Sunrise On The Mountains Southwest Of Sughet Jangal K2 North Face China Base Camp (click to enlarge)


My Lonely Tent Late Afternoon At K2 North Face Intermediate Base Camp 4462m With K2 North Face Close Behind

My Lonely Tent Late Afternoon At K2 North Face Intermediate Base Camp 4462m With K2 North Face Close Behind (click to enlarge)


K2 North Face Close Up Late Afternoon From K2 North Face Intermediate Base Camp

K2 North Face Close Up Late Afternoon From K2 North Face Intermediate Base Camp (click to enlarge)


K2 North Face At Sunset From K2 North Face Intermediate Base Camp

K2 North Face At Sunset From K2 North Face Intermediate Base Camp (click to enlarge)


K2 North Face Close Up At Sunset From K2 North Face Intermediate Base Camp

K2 North Face Close Up At Sunset From K2 North Face Intermediate Base Camp (click to enlarge)


Jerome Ryan Riding A Camel To Cross The Shaksgam River Trekking Between Kulquin Bulak Camp In Shaksgam Valley And Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China

Jerome Ryan Riding A Camel To Cross The Shaksgam River Trekking Between Kulquin Bulak Camp In Shaksgam Valley And Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum North Base Camp 4294m In China With Gasherbrum I Hidden Peak, Gasherbrum II E, Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum III North Faces

Gasherbrum North Base Camp 4294m In China With Gasherbrum I Hidden Peak, Gasherbrum II E, Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum III North Faces (click to enlarge)


K2 East Face Close Up Just Before Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China

K2 East Face Close Up Just Before Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China (click to enlarge)


K2 East Face Close Up At Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China

K2 East Face Close Up At Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China (click to enlarge)


K2 East Face Close Up At Sunrise Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China

K2 East Face Close Up At Sunrise Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum I Hidden Peak North Face Close Up Late Afternoon From Gasherbrum North Base Camp in China

Gasherbrum I Hidden Peak North Face Close Up Late Afternoon From Gasherbrum North Base Camp in China (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum II E, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum III, Nakpo Kangri North Faces Just before Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China

Gasherbrum II E, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum III, Nakpo Kangri North Faces Just before Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum III North Faces Close Up Before Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China

Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum III North Faces Close Up Before Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum I Hidden Peak North Face Close Up At Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China

Gasherbrum I Hidden Peak North Face Close Up At Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum II E, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum III North Faces At Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China

Gasherbrum II E, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum III North Faces At Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum III North Faces At Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China

Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum III North Faces At Sunset From Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II E, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum III, Nakpo Kangri From Gasherbrum North Glacier In China

Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II E, Gasherbrum II, Gasherbrum III, Nakpo Kangri From Gasherbrum North Glacier In China (click to enlarge)


Gasherbrum II E and Gasherbrum II And Gasherbrum North Glacier In China

Gasherbrum II E and Gasherbrum II And Gasherbrum North Glacier In China (click to enlarge)


Huge Penitentes On The Gasherbrum North Glacier In China

Huge Penitentes On The Gasherbrum North Glacier In China (click to enlarge)


Guide Muhammad, Cook Shobo, Jerome Ryan On The Gasherbrum North Glacier In China

Guide Muhammad, Cook Shobo, Jerome Ryan On The Gasherbrum North Glacier In China (click to enlarge)

Updated: September 2014. Click on an image to see the FULL size with a caption.

K2 - 8611m - #2 In The World

K2 (8611m) is the second highest mountain in the world, and is thought by many climbers to be the ultimate climb. It is much more difficult and dangerous than Mount Everest. Its giant pyramid peak towers in isolation, 3900m above the wide Concordia glacial field at the head of the Baltoro Glacier. In 1856 Capt. T.G. Montgomerie of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India saw a cluster of high peaks from a point 137 miles away in Kashmir, and entered them as K1, K2, K3 and so on, with K standing for Karakoram. K1, K3, K4 and K5 were eventually renamed Masherbrum, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum I respectively. But, K2 kept the surveyor's notation as its common name.

The mountain's remoteness had rendered it invisible from any inhabited place, so apart from an occasional local reference as Chogori (meaning Great Mountain or Big Snow Mountain), it had no other name prior to Montgomerie's survey. Since that time, the name Mount Godwin-Austen has occasionally been used, in honour of the man who directed the survey. For the most part, however, K2 has been the name of choice, and has even evolved into Ketu, the name used by the Balti people who act as porters in the region. The sheer icy summit is flanked by six equally steep ridges. Each of its faces presents a maze of precipices and overhangs.

The Karakoram (“Black Mountains”) and Himalaya are the newest mountains in the World. Pakistan has the largest concentration of high mountains in the World. There are more than 100 peaks over 7,000 meters within a radius of 180 kilometers. Five of the 14 8000-metre peaks in the world are in Pakistan. Peaks above 3,000 to 6,000 meters are countless and remain unclimbed and unnamed. Out of 100 highest peaks in the world, more than 50 are in Pakistan.

Jim Wickwire from the Foreword for the book Five Miles High:

"For many climbers K2 – even more than Everest – is the ultimate mountain. At 28,250 feet, it is second only to Everest, a scant 800 feet higher. With its classic pyramidal shape, K2 is steep on all sides. It is the perfect embodiment of our mental image of what a great mountain should be like. The climber who has designs on K2’s summit must not only content with extreme altitude and difficult rock and ice, but with sudden storms that deplete strength and erode willpower."

Jim Curran describes his first view of K2 in his book K2 Triumph and Tragedy:

"The sight made my flesh crawl, and took away what little breath I had. K2. There it was, unequivocal, real, present, impassive and quite momentarily huge. A great triangle that hung like a gigantic backdrop to the silent amphitheatre of Concordia."



Baltoro Glacier from Paiju to Concordia with K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum IV, Masherbrum  - Nasa Image ISS001-343-26 and 343-27

Baltoro Glacier Trekking Route To Concordia And Gasherbrum Base Camp

After flying from Islamabad to Skardu with an amazing view of Nanga Parbat, driving from Skardu to Thongol, and trekking from Thongol to Paiju, I set foot on the Baltoro Glacier. I trekked to Khoburtse that first day with a stunning view of Trango Nameless Tower and the Great Trango Tower. I had a dazzling sunrise from Khoburtse with views of Paiju Peak, Uli Biaho Tower, Trango Towers, Cathedral, and Lobsang Spire. The next trekking day we went from Khoburtse to Goro II where Masherbrum was striking both at sunset and sunrise while Gasherbrum IV loomed ahead with Gasherbrum II poking out to its right.

The next day was a fairly short trekking day passing Muztagh Tower before arriving at Concordia, the highlight of the whole trek with K2 dominating the view at the head of the Godwin-Austen Glacier. Rotating in a circle at Concordia, the view has K2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum IV, Baltoro Kangri, Vigne Peak, Mitre Peak, Paiju Peak, the spires of the Baltoro Glacier, Crystal Peak and Marble Peak. WOW! Spectacular! Breathtaking!

The next day we trekked on the Upper Baltoro Glacier to Shaqring Camp with views of Chogolisa and Baltoro Kangri. Cloudy weather rolled in as we trekked on the Abruzzi Glacier to Gasherbrum Base Camp with a brief view of Gasherbrum I. After back-tracking to Concordia it snowed, so we decided to return back down the Baltoro Glacier instead of waiting for the weather to clear and the snow to melt.



K2 North Face Trek Route

K2 North Face Trek Route And Gasherbrum North Base Camp

After flying from Beijing to Urumqi and Kashgar, we drove to Karghilik and finally to Yilik village (3504m). The trek was easy to Sarak Camp (3759m) and Kotaz Camp (4330m) before crossing the Aghil Pass (4810m) and descending to the Shaksgam Valley (4000m). The trail was along the wide expanse of the Shaksgam River to a beautiful camp at Kerqin (3968m) with small flowers and mountain views. The trail to K2 Base Camp continues on the flat Shaksgam Valley to River Junction Camp (3824m) and then to the Sarpo Laggo Valley and Sughet Jangal (3900m). The trek was fairly short to K2 Intermediate Base Camp (4462m) with spectacular views of K2 North Face, especially at sunset. I was the only person at this lonely camp.

I retraced the trail back to River Junction and Kerqin camps, passed the valley from Aghil Pass and continued to Kulqin Bulak Camp (4060m) and Gasherbrum North Base camp (4294m) with breathtaking views of Gasherbrum I, Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum III. We then retraced to Yilik Village and back to Kasgkar and Beijing.


K2 - my most viewed Youtube Videos

 

The clouds slowly disappear to reveal the full beauty of the K2 North Face at sunset from K2 Intermediate Base Camp in China

 

K2 East Face and Gasherbrum I, II, III North Faces from Gasherbrum North Base Camp In China

 

Kashgar Kashi in western China: Mao Statue, Id Kah Mosque, Old Town, Ferris Wheel, Donghu East Lake, Urban Planning Museum, Tomb Of Abakh Hoja

 

The crowded Sunday Market with the Meat Market, Horse Trading, Animal Market and Fruit and Vegetable market

 

Yilik Village Life: farming, animals, school, mud brick buildings, headman, babies, children, adults

 

Trek along the wide expanse of the Shaksgam Valley and River to River Junction Camp and then into the Sarpo Laggo Valley and to K2 Base Camp at Sughet Jangal


K2 Attempts


K2 1892 - Sir Martin Conway - K2 A Challenge To The Sky book

K2 1902 Attempt - Victor Wessely, Heinrich Pfannl, Oscar Eckenstein, Aleister Crowley, Jules Jacot-Guillarmod and George Knowles

K2 1892 and 1902

Excerpt from Climbing The World's 14 Highest Mountains by Richard Sale and John Cleare: In 1892 the base of the peak was reached for the first time by the British mountaineer Martin Conway. Conway explored the Baltoro, naming Concordia ... and discovering the Godwin-Austen and Vigne Glaciers. Conway also named Broad Peak and Hidden Peak (Gasherbrum I). Conway's team made an attempt on a peak he called Golden Throne (Baltoro Kangri) reaching a subsidiary summit. Although Conway's expedition did little actual climbing, in terms of exploration it was a major success.

Ten years after Conway's trip [in 1902] a small team of British and Austrian climbers and a Swiss doctor under Oscar Eckenstein arrived to climb K2. ... Eckenstein doggedly refused to deflect from his objective, with the result that the team did not get higher than 6,600m and then had to retreat hastily when [Heinrich] Plannl contracted pulmonary oedema. ... The expedition was also notable for including Edward Alexander (Aleister) Crowley, the self-proclaimed Great Beast 666 etc. whose abilities as a climber have been completely overshadowed by those as a self-publicist, though they actually seem to have been far greater than his abilities to conjure up the Devil.


K2 Italian Attempt 1909 - Federico Negrotto, Fillipe De Filippi And Vittorio Sella At Concordia - K2 A Challenge To The Sky book

K2 Italian Attempt 1909 - K2 Abruzzi Route By Vittorio Sella - K2 A Challenge To The Sky book

K2 1909 Italian Duke Of Abruzzi Expedition

Excerpt from Climbing The World's 14 Highest Mountains by Richard Sale and John Cleare: In 1909 K2 was attempted by an Italian team led by the Duke of the Abruzzi who correctly identified the south-east ridge - now often referred to as the Abruzzi Ridge or Spur - as the most straightforward way to the summit. The Duke's team included Vittorio Sella, arguably the greatest mountain photographer of all time ... Abruzzi`s team did not get high - only to about 6,000m - but they established, in their own eyes at least, the Italian 'ownership' of the peak.


Savoia Pass where the 1938 American Expedition tried three times to reach the Northwest ridge - Five Miles High book

Charles Houston and Paul Petzoldt climbed to the base of the final K2 Summit cone on July 21, 1938 - Five Miles High book

K2 1938 American Expedition

The 1938 American Karakoram lightweight expedition of 6 climbers and 6 porters travelled from Srinagar to Skardu by ponies and then trekked from Skardu to Base Camp. They explored five main ridges: the Northwest and West ridges from the Savoia Glacier, the Southwest from the Angleus, the Southeast Abruzzi ridge, and the Northeast. And then settled on the Abruzzi Ridge as the most feasible.

Bill House climbed a great slanting gash in an almost vertical rock to surmount the first main difficulty of the Abruzzi Ridge, now called House's Chimney. House: "With feet and hands gripping both sides, I climbed up 20 feet to where the walls flared outward and became so smooth that I had to put my back against one and feet against the other to hitch myself up a few inches at a time."

Houston and Petzoldt overcame the second main difficulty of the Abruzzi Ridge, they called the Black Pyramid. Houston: "We felt that the last thousand feet leading onto the great shoulder was by far the most difficult and inaccessible stretch of all. ... Shortly after noon we shook hands at the top of the Black Pyramid at an altitude of approximately 24,500 feet. Abruzzi ridge had been conquered and we had found a route to the snow fields of the 25,000-foot shoulder."

With the summit within their grasp, the team decided that safety came first, so they agreed that Houston and Petzoldt would continue climbing for only three days. Houston: "At last, at the base of the final cone, I could go on no farther. Petzoldt was 150 feet above me, working on the rock. ... A deep and heartfelt regret at abandoning the attack, when success seemed within our grasp." Excerpts from Five Miles High by Robert H. Bates and Charles H. Houston.


Members Of 1939 American K2 Expedition Walking Towards K2 From Concordia - The Last Man On The Mountain book cover

K2 showing the 1939 expedition's high point and camps IX, VIII, and VII- K2 The 1939 Tragedy book

Fritz Wiessner on the return march from K2 - K2 The 1939 Tragedy book

K2 1939 American Expedition

In 1939 another American expedition, this time led by Fritz Wiessner, came within 200m of the summit, but ended in disaster when four climbers disappeared high on the mountain. After the best climbers dropped out, Fritz had to lead an inexperienced and weak team. Fritz led all the way, breaking trail, and turned back at 8380m just below the easy summit snowfield when Pasang Lama wouldn't go on. After a second attempt failed because Pasang had lost his crampons, Wiessner and Pasang descended to Camp VIII, only occupied by Dudley Wolfe.

On the descent the three climbers fell, but Wiessner was able to self-arrest, stopping their fall. Ed Viesturs thinks that "only Pete Schoening's 'miracle belay' in 1953 is more legendary than Wiessner's self arrest." Unknown to Wiessner, all camps below camp VIII had been stripped supposedly because they thought that the summit party had been killed. The attempt to rescue Wolfe failed, with Wolfe and three Sherpas perishing on the K2 Shoulder. Ed Viesturs thinks that "any climber has to be in complete awe of Wiessner's performance on K2." and considers his logistical plan "brilliant." Excerpts from K2: Life and Death on the World's Most Dangerous Mountain by Ed Viesturs and David Roberts.


Back row: Dee Molenaar, Art Gilkey, Charlie Houston, Bob Craig, Bob Bates, Tony Streather. Front row: George Bell, Colonel Ata-Ullah, Pete Schoening - K2: The Savage Mountain book

1953 American K2 Expedition built the Art Gilkey funeral cairn At K2 Base Camp - K2: The Savage Mountain book

K2 1953 American Expedition

After their 1938 reconnaissance expedition, Houston and Bates returned to K2 in 1953 to attempt the summit. They climb the Abruzzi spur, carrying their own loads, using a pulley on House’s Chimney. They slowly set up camps, and on August 2 eight mountaineers are in Camp VIII, ready to attempt the summit. "Morale was magnificent. We were within striking distance of the goal. The summit might still be ours." But then in shades of the 1986 K2 tragedy, a storm hits and they have to remain at Camp VIII for seven days However, on August 7, "As Art Gilkey crawled out to join us, he collapsed unconscious in the snow. ... Art had developed thrombophlebitis. ... There was no hope, absolutely none. Art was crippled. He would not recover enough to walk down. We could not carry him down. But we could try, and we must."

They wrapped Gilkey in a sleeping bag and began lowering him down towards Camp VII on August 10, changing the route to a rocky cliff to avoid avalanche danger. "I never saw Bell fall, but to my horror I saw Streather being dragged off the slope ... In almost the same instant I saw Houston swept off ... a terrible jerk ripped me from my hold." Three separate ropes luckily got tangled together as the five men fell. "the whole strain of the five falling men, plus Gilkey, was transmitted to Schoening. ... a solitary ice axe with its pick end jabbed into the ice. ... One man had held five men who slid 150 to 300 feet down a 45-degree slope and that he had done it at nearly 25,000 feet"

They anchored Gilkey and went to Camp VII to set up the tents. When they went back to get Gilkey, an avalanche had ripped him from the anchors, "The whole slope was bare of life. Art Gilkey was gone!" The descent was harrowing in stormy conditions and with Houston in shock from a concussion, and Bell with frostbite in his feet and hands. They set up a memorial cairn to Gilkey near Base Camp. "Except for the dull ache of Gilkey’s loss, we felt at peace with the world. ... We had done our best and had survived." Excerpts from K2: The Savage Mountain by Charles H. Houston and Robert H. Bates.


K2 First Ascent


K2 First Ascent - Lino Lacedelli And Achille Compagnoni On K2 Summit July 30 1954

The main players in the first ascent of K2 in 1954: Ardito Desio, Walter Bonatti, Achille Compagnoni, Lino Lacedelli, Mahdi, Mario Puchoz - Ascent Of K2: Second Highest Peak In The World book

The first ascent of K2 was completed by the 1954 Italian Expedition led by Ardito Desio. After studying the previous K2 attempts, especially learning from the 1953 American expedition, and making a reconnaissance of K2 with Ricardo Cassin in 1953, the first controversy struck the expedition when Cassin was dropped from the team. Tragedy hit the expedition when Mario Puchoz contracted pneumonia (now thought to be pulmonary oedema) and died on June 21.

Desio pushed the team on, "The honour of Italian mountaineering was at stake.", and assigned Achille Compagnoni as the leader on the mountain. Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli climbed up to Camp IX on July 29, with Walter Bonatti and HAP Mahdi following, carrying their oxygen bottles. But Compagnoni intentionally moved the camp from the planned site so Bonatti could not try for the summit. After waiting in vain for Lacedelli and Compagnoni to appear, Bonatti and Mahdi had to suffer through a bivouac at 8100m, with Madhi suffering frostbitten toes.

After Bonatti and Mahdi descended at first light, Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni picked up the oxygen and continued, reaching the summit of K2 at 6:10pm on July 30, 1954.

"The ground was almost flat - now it was flat! We looked about us ... Above us there was nothing but blue sky ... We embraced each other, then flung ourselves down flat on the snow so that we could remove our oxygen-masks. Next we tied the two small flags – Italian and Pakistani – to an ice-axe, together with a small standard of the Italian Alpine Club." While Compagnoni gushes with personal satisfaction, "it would probably be true to say that we had both just experienced the greatest moment of our lies", Desio hits the nationalistic tone: "Lift up your hearts, dear comrades! By your efforts you have won great glory for your native land ... to-day all Italians are rising to acclaim you as worthy champions of your race." – from Ascent Of K2: Second Highest Peak In The World by Ardito Desio.

A 50-year controversy struck when the expedition leaders accused Bonatti of turning back before delivering needed oxygen to the lead climbers below the summit. After staying quiet for 50 years, Lacedelli finally published his view of what happened in 2004, corroborating Bonatti's story.


Other Notable K2 Ascents


K2 showing the entire northeast route from advanced base camp to the summit - 8000 Metri Di Vita 8000 Metres To Live For book

K2 Northeast Ridge First Ascent - Upper left: Lou Reichardt on K2 summit September 6 1978. Lower left: Rick Ridgeway on K2 summit September 7 1978. Right: John Roskelley on K2 summit September 7 1978.

K2 First Ascent Northeast Ridge

The long, corniced K2 Northeast Ridge was climbed for the first time by an American team led by Jim Whittaker in 1978. John Roskelley and Rick Ridgeway led the most difficult section of the northeast ridge. "We were climbing on the edge of a knife. The slope dropped away on both sides, steeply, dramatically, to glaciers thousands of feet below. ... Twelve hundred feet of steep ridge was behind us, fixed with rope."

After reaching their top camp, Jim Wickwire and Lou Reichardt decided to try the Abruzzi, while John Roskelly and Rick Ridegeway attempted the direct route to the summit. John and Rick had to turn back due to avalanche danger. Lou Reichardt and Jim Wickwire reached the K2 summit on September 6, 1978 at 17:15pm. "The summit of his dreams, Wick stared across the mountains stretching endlessly below him, summit after summit painted gold. They were all below him. The world curved away, in all directions, falling away, below his feet. For Lou, it was an even more remarkable victory. He was the first man to climb K2 without oxygen."

Lou quickly left the summit at 17:30 and reached Camp 6 late that evening where John and Rick were planning their ascent. Wick lingered until 18:15 on the summit and had to suffer through a horrible bivouac just below the summit. Wick: "What a place this would be to spend an eternity. Frozen up here forever on the summit of K2. The highest man in the world. ... Be careful. You’ll be down soon. I’m coming home, Mary Lou. I love you." Wick was able to descend, but eventually got pneumonia complicated with pleurisy and had to take a rescue helicopter near Paiju. Rick Ridgeway and John Roskelley reached the summit the next day, on September 7 at 15:30 without oxygen. "No wind. No Clouds. Cerulean sky, brilliant sun ... Nothing quite real, the feeling of a dream. ... John crawled up behind me, and together we sat on top, holding each other, too exhausted to speak." Excerpts from The Last Step: The American Ascent Of K2 by Rick Ridgeway.


K2 West Face First Ascent Route by Japanese 1981 - 8000 Metri Di Vita 8000 Metres To Live For book

K2 West Face First Ascent Route by Japanese 1981 - Nazir Sabir On K2 Summit August 7, 1981

K2 West Face First Ascent Route by Japanese 1981 - Nazir Sabir Holding Pakistan And Japan Flags On K2 Summit August 7, 1981

K2 First Ascent West Face

The K2 West Ridge, 3200m of ice and rock, was first climbed by a Japanese expedition led by Teruo Matsuura in 1981, with Eiho Otani and Pakistani Nazir Sabir reaching the K2 summit on August 7, 1981. Excerpt from Climbing The World's 14 Highest Mountains by Richard Sale and John Cleare:

They followed a snow band across the west face to the top of the south-west ridge. The route, which was fixed with 5,500m of rope, had taken 52 days to climb. On 6 August Eiho Otani, Matsushi Yamashita and Nazir Sabir climbed the fixed ropes to the south-west ridge and started for the summit. ... By 6pm they had climbed to about 8,470m where they decided to bivouac.

Next morning, 7 August, they climbed another 100m ... just 50m from the top. Here Otani and Yamashita radioed the team leader and were told to descend as they were too tired to continue. Sabir ... was appalled. After 45 minutes of sometimes heated argument the leader eventually agreed they could continue. Yamashita was by now too exhausted to continue, but Otani and Sabir climbed on, reaching the top an hour later.


K2 First Ascent North Ridge Route 1982 - K2 A Challenge To The Sky book

K2 First Ascent North Ridge  - Japanese On K2 Summit August 14, 1982 - K2 A Challenge To The Sky book

K2 First Ascent North Ridge

The difficult North Ridge on the Chinese side of K2 was climbed for the first time in 1982 by a team from the Mountaineering Association of Japan, led by Isao Shinkai and Masatsugo Konishi. Naoe Sakashita, Hiroshi Yoshino, and Yukihiro Yanagisawa reached the summit on August 14, 1982. Yanagisawa fell and died on the descent. The next day Hironobu Kamuro, Haruichi Kawamura, Tatsuji Shigeno, Kazushige Takami also reached the K2 summit.

Excerpt from K2: A Challenge To The Sky written by Kurt Diemberger: The North Ridge and its lateral glaciers taper towards the summit in a single, increasingly steep line, uninterrupted by the terraces and shoulders which characterize the South-East side, on the Abruzzi Ridge. As it approaches the peak, the crest breaks up into steep towers and pinnacles, and on more than one occasion the Japanese climbers tried to move onto the hanging glacier on the left-hand side. A complex and difficult manoeuvre was necessary and was eventually completed at an altitude of 8,000 metres. Both of the Japanese climbing teams exploited the very steep glacier and the ribs to either side to reach the summit.


K2 First Ascent North Ridge Route 1982 - K2 A Challenge To The Sky book

K2 First Ascent South Face 1986 - Tadeusz Piotrowski At 7400m On K2 South Face

K2 First Ascent South Face 1986 - Kurt Diemberger, Jerzy Kukuczka, Janusz Majer - The Endless Knot book

K2 First Ascent South Face

The K2 South Face (Central Rib), called a suicidal route by Reinhold Messner, was climbed for the first time on July 8, 1986 by Jerzy Kukuczka and Tadeusz Piotrowski. Excerpt from Climbing The World's 14 Highest Mountains by Richard Sale and John Cleare:

... they established an equipment dump at 7,000m. After a ten-day delay due to bad weather Kukuczka and Piotrowski returned to the face. It took two days to reach their dump, two more to reach the final headwall. On this they also spent two days, on the first of which Kukucxka, in the lead, climbed only 30m of what he later described as the hardest climbing he had ever done at altitude. At their bivouac, the Poles dropped their last gas cylinder, but used a candle to melt a mug of water.

The next day they summited and descended towards the shoulder but were forced to bivouac again. Now, in appalling weather and badly dehydrated they continued to descend towards the camps on the original route, but Piotrowski lost his crampons and immediately slipped off the mountain.


K2 First Ascent South-Southwest Ridge Route 1986 - Route 3 - World Mountaineering book

K2 First Ascent South-South-West Ridge 1986 - Przemyslaw Piasecki Crossing The Mushroom - K2 Triumph And Tragedy book

K2 First Ascent South-southwest Ridge

The K2 South-SouthWest ridge, called the Magic Line by Reinhold Messner in 1979, was climbed for the first time by Wojciech Wroz, Przemyslaw Piasecki and Peter Bozik on August 3, 1986. Excerpt from K2: A Challenge To The Sky by Roberto Mantovani:

One of the great routes (2,300 metres difference in height from the Negrotto Saddle to the summit of K2), aesthetically very attractive, logical and difficult. Casarotto climbed alpine style, without installing fixed ropes. ... On the afternoon of the 7th of July, Renato reached 8,3000 metres. A single day of fine weather and he would have gained the summit. It was not to be.. ... On the 16th of July he made another attempt before turning back.

... Following Casarotto's death, the ridge was climbed by the Poles Przemyslaw Piasecki and Wojciech Wroz and the Slovenian Petr Bozik. They reached the summit of K2 on the 3rd of August. The climb contained sections with IV and V level difficulty ratings on rock, and notably steep slopes on snow and ice. It required the installation of long stretches of fixed ropes, three high altitude camps and two bivouacs at 8,000 and 8,400 metres. Having reached the summit in the late afternoon, the climbers decided to descend along the normal route. Wroz fell to his death at half past eleven at night, whilst negotiating a difficult section at 8,100 metres.


K2 First Ascent South-Southeast Spur Cesen Route 1986 - K2 A Challenge To The Sky book

K2 First Ascent South-Southeast Spur Cesen Route - British 1983 Expedition Climbing On Steep Lower Section - Doug Scott Himalayan Climber book

K2 First Ascent South-Southeast Spur Cesen Route - Spanish 1994 Expedition between Camps II and III - Los 14 Ochomiles de Juanito Oiarzabal book

K2 First Ascent South-southeast Cesen Spur

Doug Scott, Roger-Baxter Jones, Jean Afanassieff and Andy Parkin climbed the south-southeast spur to just below the Shoulder on July 23, 1983. Excerpt from Doug Scott Himalayan Climber: We were all keen to climb K2 alpine style by a new route and the South Rib looked the ideal objective for this. ... As we got higher the deep snow and icy winds made trail-breaking very arduous. There was also some avalanche danger, so for our fourth bivouac we stopped in a safe position under rocks 100m below the Shoulder. On the fifth day, at about 7500m, Jean announced that he was suffering various symptoms of altitude sickness. ... we descended rapidly and regained Base Camp two days later.

Tomo Cesen claimed he climbed the South-southeast spur to the Shoulder solo on August 4, 1986 in just 19 hours. Excerpt from Climbing The World's 14 Highest Mountains by Richard Sale and John Cleare: ... but did not attempt either the summit or Camp IV before descending the Abruzzi Spur. The climb was controversial because Cesen claimed a new route, though virtually (actually?) all of it had been climbed by Scott's team in 1983, and many doubted his claim.

In 1994 a strong Spanish team completed the south-southeast spur all the way to the summit, with Alberto and Felix Inurrategi, Juanito Oiarzabal, Enríque de Pablo, and Juan Tomas reaching the K2 summit on June 24, 1994. According to the Spanish, this route is easier than the Abruzzi Ridge.