K2 (Godwin Austen)

K2 (Godwin Austen, Chhogori, Chogri Peak, چھوغوری)

The Reflection of K2 (8,611 m), the second highest mountain in the world, Central Karakoram, Gilgit-Baltistan, Northern Pakistan | Pornchai Ar

K2 is a majestic mountain located in the Karakoram range on the border between Pakistan and China. It is the second-highest peak in the world, standing tall at 28,251 feet, and is considered one of the toughest mountains to climb. K2 is also known as Mount Godwin-Austen, named after two British surveyors who first measured the peak in 1856.

The mountain was first attempted to climb in 1902 by a team led by Aleister Crowley, but the expedition was a failure. It wasn’t until 1954 that an Italian team finally reached the summit, led by Ardito Desio. Since then, there have been numerous expeditions to K2, with many successful climbs and tragic losses.

K2 is known for its extreme weather conditions and unpredictable avalanches. The ascent is steep and treacherous, with a high risk of falls and ice falls. The climbers have to traverse through ice walls, crevasses, and steep rock faces to reach the summit. The climbers have to be highly skilled and experienced to even attempt the climb.

Beautiful landscape of Karakorum mountain range at K2 trekking route, Pakistan, Asia

K2 has become a bucket list item for many expert climbers and adventurers. It is a symbol of challenge and adventure, and the climbers who have successfully reached the summit are revered as heroes in the mountaineering community. The journey to the top of K2 requires physical endurance, mental strength, and an unrelenting spirit.

Despite its challenges, K2 continues to attract climbers from all over the world. The mountain has a unique allure and mystique that draws people in, and the climb is considered the ultimate test of human endurance. K2 is not just a mountain; it is a symbol of human spirit and determination.

Fast Facts

K2 Surrounded by Clouds

Country: Pakistan, China

State/Province: Gilgit-Baltistan, Xinjiang

Mountain Range: Baltoro Karakoram

Parents: Karakoram

Elevation: 28,251 feet / 8,611 meters according to the National Geographic Society.

Prominence: 13,190 feet / 4,020 meters

Isolation: 818 miles / 1,316 kilometers

K2 in the Karakorum Mountains, Pakistan, in early morning light.

Nearest Higher Neighbor (NHN): Mount Everest

First Ascent: On July 31st, 1954, An Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio first ascended to the summit via the Abruzzi Spur. The two climbers who reached the summit were Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni.

Fun Fact: K2 holds the record of being the second tallest mountain in the world!

Best Time to Visit: The months of July and August are ideal for visiting K2, because the weather is best during these months. K2 does not have a monsoon season like Everest does, so visitors do not have to plan around that.


This majestic peak is home to some of the largest and most spectacular glaciers on Earth, including the Baltoro Glacier and the Godwin-Austen Glacier. These glaciers play a significant role in the region’s ecosystem and are critical in understanding global climate change.

The Baltoro Glacier, one of the longest glaciers outside the polar region, spans approximately 63 kilometers (39 miles) in length. Originating from the slopes of K2, it descends through a maze of towering peaks and eventually converges with other glaciers to form the Shigar River. The Baltoro Glacier is renowned for its unparalleled beauty and is a popular destination among trekkers and mountaineers. It serves as a gateway to several iconic peaks, including K2, Gasherbrum I, and Broad Peak.

Baltoro glacier, one of the bigget glaciers outside polar region. | Hunzukutz Kahn

The Godwin-Austen Glacier, named after K2’s alternate name Mount Godwin-Austen, lies to the southwest of the peak. With its source near K2’s summit, it flows down for about 24 kilometers (15 miles) before merging with the Baltoro Glacier. This impressive ice stream contributes significantly to the region’s freshwater supply and supports various forms of wildlife.

K2’s glaciers are not only essential components of their surrounding ecosystem but also serve as valuable indicators of climate change. As global temperatures rise, they experience accelerated melting rates, leading to an increased risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), which can cause catastrophic damage to downstream communities. Monitoring these glaciers’ health is crucial for understanding climate change’s impact on water resources, ecosystems, and human populations.

K2’s glaciers, including the Baltoro Glacier and the Godwin-Austen Glacier, are vital components of the Karakoram Range’s natural landscape. These vast ice masses are not only awe-inspiring sights but also essential to regional ecosystems, freshwater supplies, and climate change research. As such, it is crucial to continue monitoring their conditions and take necessary actions to protect these unique glaciers for future generations.

View of K2 from Concordia, Pakistan


K2, the second-highest mountain in the world, is a daunting challenge for mountaineers due to its extreme altitude, remote location, and unpredictable weather conditions. Despite its reputation as the “Savage Mountain,” numerous climbers have attempted to conquer this behemoth, resulting in the establishment of multiple K2 routes. These trails vary in terms of technical difficulty and accessibility, making it essential for climbers to choose the most appropriate route for their experience level and expedition goals.

One of the most popular K2 routes is the Abruzzi Spur, also known as the Southeast Ridge. This trail offers relatively easier access to K2’s summit compared to other routes and has been the site of numerous successful ascents. The Abruzzi Spur involves a series of steep rock sections, exposed ridges, and challenging ice slopes. Climbing this route requires a high level of technical skill and stamina, as well as a thorough understanding of weather patterns and avalanche risks.

Another notable trail is the North Ridge, which begins in China and is considered one of the most difficult K2 routes. This route requires climbers to navigate challenging rock formations, steep snow slopes, and treacherous icefalls. Additionally, obtaining permits for this route can be more complicated due to its location in a politically sensitive region.

The West Face is another highly technical route that involves traversing steep rock faces and navigating through a serac barrier, which is a large ice cliff that poses a significant risk to climbers. This trail has seen fewer successful ascents compared to other routes due to its challenging nature and remote location.

K2 routes vary significantly in terms of technical difficulty and accessibility. However, regardless of the chosen trail, attempting to summit K2 requires a high level of mountaineering experience, physical endurance, and mental fortitude. Climbers must be prepared for harsh weather conditions, high altitudes, and potential hazards throughout their expedition. The choice of the appropriate route is critical in ensuring a successful and safe ascent of this formidable peak.

Sunset at K2, the second highest peak in the world, Karakorum Mountains, Pakistan

External Links

Philippe Gatta – Great post on a K2 expedition with photos
Alan Arnette – “Why K2 Will Never Become Everest” has a lot of great climbing information and photos
Britannica – Encyclopedia entry on K2

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