K2 is the most dangerous summit in the world. Many summiteers have called the mountain a savage and even the worse place on Earth. Likewise, upon findings, it is easy to tell that mountaineers have found it easier to climb Mount Everest than K2. And the death rate in Mt. K2 is much higher at 25 percent compared to Mt. Annapurna and Nanga Parbat, with death rates as low as 20 percent.
Many mountaineers and summiteers have been wondering how many people have successfully summited K2 to this. In this article, let’s find the answer to every adrenaline junkie’s curiosity!
How Many People Have Summited K2?
While around 5600 people have been successful in conquering the climb to Mount Everest, so is not the case for K2. Mount K2 is not as high as mount everest. But it is the second-highest peak in the world and stands tall at 8,611 meters (28,251 ft). One has always found it hard even to consider climbing K2 during the winter. Winter expeditions are the hardest. However, some have been successful in summiting K2.
A total of only 306 people have summited K2. The number is much smaller than those who climbed the Mt. Everest. Mountaineers often take Mountains of high heights as a challenge for their expedition. But K2 is a different story for many.
Death rates in K2 have decreased much more as compared to the past from the year 2022. And this has also led to more mountaineers joining the climb to the second-highest mountain in the world. It is not that the mountain has gotten any kinder, but people have now become more aware of the requirements for the climb, including the best season for an expedition to the K2 in contrast to the past.
History of K2 Summiteers
Though many people attempted to climb K2, there have been many failed attempts. There were attempts made during recent years 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2022. However, there are just as many successful people who have been successful in summited K2.
Italian climbers Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni became the first to climb K2 in 1954 on 31st July. Ardito Desio led the climb. They took the Abruzzi Spur route. Though this expedition has made the two Italians a hero for their nation, the whole scenario was rather too controversial, to begin with. The other mountaineers who helped the two go up the K2 were a Pakistani team member, Colonel Muhammad Ata-Ullah, Walter Bonatti, and Pakistani Hunza porter Amir Mehdi.
The two Italians ascended higher than they had promised to and set their camps there to stay overnight. Amir Mehdi was assigned to set the oxygen tanks at 8,100 meters (26,600 ft) for the Italians. Moreover, the porter had to spend his night at 8000 meters without a tent. When he returned later, he was alive, but his toes had to be amputated. Since Lacedelli and Compagnoni did not want to ruin their images as the national heroes in Italy, they blamed Mehdi’s injuries on Bonatti, who was much younger than Lacedelli. It is even said that Lino was insecure about Walter’s presence in the expedition since he was not as old.
The second expedition took place in 1977, a Japanese expedition. About 1500 porters were used to complete the journey. Likewise, this also marked the first climb for a Pakistani local, Ashraf Aman, led by Ichiro Yoshizawa of Japan. The climbers took the Abruzzi Spur route.
In 1978, an American team led by James Whittaker became the third successful expedition to K2. The team members were Louis Reichardt, Jim Wickwire, John Roskelley, and Rick Ridgeway. They took a longer route, the Northeast Ridge. After a failed attempt by American climbers in 1938, the team had an emotional victory after making history of an incomplete attempt for a whole 40 years. Furthermore, Wickwire endured an overnight bivouac, which is also the highest bivouac today, at 150 meters (490 ft).
A team from the Japanese Mountaineering Association with members Naoe Sakashita, Hiroshi Yoshino, and Yukihiro Yanagisawa led by Isao Shinkai and Masatsugo Konishi successfully climbed the summit in 1982. The route they took was the North Ridge. Sadly, Yanagisawa passed away after falling on the mountain. The team submitted the K2 just a day after the mountaineer died.
First ascent on this day, 1982.08.14; K2 (8611m) via the North Ridge.
A huge Japanese expedition was successful in reaching the summit of K2 from the north ridge. It was led by Isao Shinkai and Masatsugu Konishi.
— Everest Today (@EverestToday) August 14, 2019
In 1983, Czech climber Josef Rakoncaj made the second successful expedition to Mount K2 from the North Ridge. Francesco Santon led him.
1986 has to be one of the best years for summiteers to have climbed the K2. There were a total of 3 expeditions in the same year. Josef Rakoncaj climbed the summit even 3 years after his first climb from the Abruzzi Spur as a member of Agostino da Polenza’s international expedition.
Similarly, Polish climber Wanda Rutkiewicz became the first woman to summit the peak. Two other mountaineers, Liliane and Maurice Barrard summitted the mountain the same. Unfortunately, Liliane’s body was found soon after on the mountain’s south face.
Two new routes, The Polish Line and The Magic Line, were taken soon after for the first time by Jerzy Kukuczka and Tadeusz Piotrowski. After successfully making it up the peak, Piotrowski died while descending after he fell on the mountain.
The most recent expedition of K2 has to be the one that Nirmal Purja and Mingma Gyalje Sherpa led in 2021, along with a team of Nepalese mountaineers. And they became successful in the journey. Purja and Sherpa both named the victory for their country Nepal. Moreover, the victory was celebrated with a Netflix documentary, 14 Peaks, which gained massive popularity worldwide.
“All 13×8000 peaks have been climbed in winter by our international climbing community, so it would be a great feat for the Nepali climbing community to make history,”, Nimsdai wrote from the base camp.
The new generation of climbers relied heavily on donations and charity from GoFundMe, social media, etc., to complete their expedition. And they have successfully done so.