EXPLAINER: K2 beckons the daring, but rarely in winter

Full Screen
1 / 3

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

FILE - In this June 15, 2017 file photo, British-American mountaineer Vanessa O'Brien gives a news conference after arriving in Pakistan to attempt to summit K2, the world's second highest peak, in Islamabad, Pakistan. OBrien went on to became the first American-British woman to summit K2. Dwarfed only by Mount Everest, K2 at 8,611-meter (28,250-foot) is one of the deadliest, that kills one in every four climbers who attempts it summit. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash, File)

ISLAMABAD – K2′s “savage” peak beckons the daring, but rare is the climber who answers the call in winter.

Dwarfed only by Mount Everest, K2 is the world’s second highest peak at 8,611 meters (28,250 feet), and it is one of the deadliest, killing one climber for every four who succeed in reaching its summit through its steep rock faces, glacier climbs and devastatingly brutal weather.

In winter, the odds are even worse.

This week, hope is waning for some of the latest mountaineers to attempt it. Ali Sadapar of Pakistan, Jon Sorri of Iceland and Juan Pablo Mohr of Chile were last heard from on Friday and were reported missing Saturday. Heavy clouds obscuring the mountain have repeatedly forced halts in the search for them.

American climber George Bell enshrined K2’s reputation — and a nickname that stuck — after a 1953 summer attempt during which he and his team members nearly plunged to their deaths. He told a reporter: “It’s a savage mountain that tries to kill you.”


K2, on the Chinese-Pakistani border in the Karakorum Range, has one of the deadliest records: 87 climbers have died trying to conquer its treacherous slopes since 1954, according to Pakistan Alpine Club secretary Karrar Haidri.

That’s compared to 377 who have successfully reached the summit, Haidri said. In contrast, Everest has been summited more than 9,000 times, while around 300 have died on the mountain.