Team reaches summit of world’s second-highest mountain . . .
A group of Nepalese climbers has reached the summit of K2, the world’s second-tallest mountain (at 8,611 metres) and considered the most dangerous and technically difficult peak on earth. They were the first group to have done so in winter conditions. K2 is located on the China-Pakistan border in Pakistan’s Karakorum mountain range. The team of 10 climbers from two expeditions reached the summit on Saturday, January 16. Elite climbers have long seen a winter ascent of the mountain as one of the greatest mountaineering challenges and nearly impossible due to the logistical difficulties and particularly harsh winter conditions. K2 was the last 8,000-metre peak left to be climbed in winter conditions.
An industry badly affected . . .
Tourism is one of the industries that has been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in areas that are highly dependent on foreigners, such as the alpine climbing industry in Nepal. With the spring 2020 Himalayan climbing season abruptly cancelled due to the pandemic, the lucrative industry, which normally employs about a million Nepalese and brings in about C$2.5 billion annually, came to a complete stop, leaving many Himalayan mountain communities is dire straits and thousands out of work. With business looking dim until foreign climbers are cleared to return, some elite Nepalese climbers decided to seize the moment and try the impossible on K2.
A boost for Nepalese mountaineering . . .
Although Sherpa are an essential part of any Himalayan commercial expedition through their role in guiding clients and supporting teams, they rarely climb independently. On their historic ascent, the 10 climbers from the two teams stopped short of the summit for everyone to regroup so they could reach the summit at the same time while singing the Nepalese national anthem. One team leader said the ascent was not for any individual but the nation and Nepal’s mountaineering pride.
- Nepal News: Nepali climbers set historic first winter ascent of Mt K2
- Rock and Ice: K2 climbed in winter for the first time!
- The New York Times: How climbers reached the summit of K2 in winter for the first time