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Pakistan: Nepali team first to top world’s second tallest K2 mountain in winter

Islamabad - 'It is the deadliest among the five highest peaks in the world'

By Agencies

Published: Sun 17 Jan 2021, 11:36 AM

A team of Nepalese climbers on Saturday made history by scaling the world’s second highest peak — Pakistan’s K2 — in the winter season, a local Alpine Club official said.

The secretary of Pakistan’s Alpine Club, Karrar Haideri, said 10 Nepali Sherpas reached the summit around 5 pm.

At 8,611 meters (28,251 feet), K2 is the most prominent peak on the Pakistani side of the Himalayan range, and the world’s second tallest after Mount Everest. Winter winds on K2 can blow at more than 200 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour) and temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit).

"We did it, believe me we did it - journey to the summit never done before. The Karakorum's 'Savage Mountain' been summited in most dangerous season: Winter. Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt. K2 (Chhogori 8,611m) this afternoon at 17:00 local time," the company, Seven Summit Treks, said in a tweet on Saturday evening.

“This was never done by anyone before in winter,” said Haideri.

He added that four international climbing teams had arrived about a month ago to try scaling K2 — the last peak above 8,000 meters in the world to not be climbed in the winter. Of these dozens of climbers, the group of 10 Nepalis have so far been the only successful team, said Haideri.

Since the maiden attempt back in 1988, just a handful of winter expeditions have been attempted on the storied 8,611-meter peak in the Karakoram range along the Chinese border that leads into the Himalayas.

Haideri said no mountaineers had reached higher than 7,750 meters, until Saturday when fair weather conditions allowed the climbers to push ahead.

Speaking to Xinhua news agency, Haidari, Secretary General of Alpine Club of Pakistan, a non-governmental organization working for promotion of mountaineering and adventure tourism in Pakistan, said the 10-member Nepalese team was the first one to reach the summit of 8,611 metres in winter.

According to the Alpine Club, an unprecedented number of climbers, in four teams totaling some 48 members, converged on the mountain this winter, more than all the previous winter expeditions put together.

A total of 48 mountaineers including five women reached the mountain's base camp to kick off the expedition on December 29, 2020, out of which five were injured and many others returned due to tough weather at the peak, he said.

Haideri said that the 10 Nepalese climbers, who called themselves Sherpas, had earlier been spread across the different teams, but formed a new group in order to claim the feat in Nepal’s name.

Talking about the reason for the mountain being the only major peak not scaled in winter, Haidari said that it is the deadliest among the five highest peaks in the world and that on average one in every four dies on the way to the summit even in summer during which it has been scaled multiple times.

"It is the highest point of the Karakoram, which is very steep and in winter the temperature here falls below minus 50 degrees Celsius. Extremely cold weather coupled with winds at the speed of 100-200 km per hour makes it the most challenging expedition in the world for mountaineers," he said.

Haidari said that last year only two to three expeditions came to Pakistan during the whole year due to worldwide Covid-19 lockdowns.

He added that the adventure tourism restarted by the end of last year and is expected to return to normal in the new year which started with the good news of scaling the K2.

The K2 is located on the China–Pakistan border between in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, and Dafdar Township in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China.

It is the highest point of the Karakoram mountain range and the highest point in both Pakistan and Xinjiang.

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