K2: A Timeline of Mountaineering

Kalash cultre


To provide a thorough context behind K2 and the Invisible Footmen, we've compiled a timeline of the major events that shaped the mountain's history, from the 1856 European survey that gave K2 its name to the landmark all-Pakistani expedition in 2014. In the intervening century and a half, K2 has been the site of spirited international competition, tragic climbing accidents and remarkable feats of mountaineering. These accomplishments, however, would have been impossible without the skilled local porters and climbers who live in the shadow of the great mountain.

At 8,609 meters (28,245 ft) as of the most recent survey, K2 is the second-tallest mountain on the planet.


K2 was named by T​.​G​.​ Montgomerie of the Survey of India as he logged peaks in the Karakorum as "K1, K2…" as viewed from Kashmir. Because K2 was not prominently visible from any area trading routes, it did not have a common local name at the time in India. In China, it was known simply as Qogiri (pronounced "Chogori"), meaning "Great Mountain."


British explorer W​.​ Martin Conway led a scientific mountaineering expedition to the Baltoro Glacier, and reached a point now known as "Concordia" about 8 hours from the base of K2.


An international expedition led by Oscar Eckenstein reached the base of K2 on the north side (China), and climbed the North East Ridge to a height of 6,​525m (21,400 ft).


An Italian expedition led by Luigi Amedeo di Savoia, the Duke of Abruzzi, reached the base of K2 on the south side (Pakistan), and climbed the South East Ridge (now known as the Abruzzi Spur) to a height of 6,​250m (20,500 ft).


An American expedition led by Dr.​ Charles S​.​ Houston reach​es​ 7​,​925 m (26,000 ft) on the Abruzzi Spur.


An American expedition led by Fritz Wiessner set a new altitude record on the Abruzzi Spur by reaching 8​,​382 m (27,500 ft).


Another American team led by Dr. Charles Houston reached 7,​900 m on the Abruzzi Spur. Team member Art Gilkey was lost in an avalanche during a valiant effort to help him descend from a high camp with serious altitude-related complications. This was the year of team member Peter Schoening's legendary feat in saving the lives of a rope team of six men by single-handedly holding their weight.



An Italian expedition led by Professor Ardito Desio reached the summit via the Abruzzi Spur using supplemental oxygen.



A Japanese expedition led by Ichiro Yoshizawa reached the summit via the Abruzzi Spur. In addition to using bottled oxygen, this team employed "siege" tactics, with 1,​500 porters and 52 members.



An American expedition led by Jim Whittaker reached the summit on the south side via the Polish North East Ridge, traversing to the Abruzzi Spur at 7,700 m. There is some debate about who the first climber to reach the top of K2 without supplemental oxygen was. American Louis Reichardt was first, as he ditched his oxygen on the way because it didn't work. John Roskelley summited after Louis, but never had oxygen to begin with. The question with Reichardt is if his oxygen bottle really didn't work and how soon he dumped it.


Teruo Matsuura led a successful attempt on the South-West ridge. On August 7 Eiho Ohtani and Nazir Sabir (from Pakistan) reached the summit,​ making the first ascent of this route.


A Japanese expedition led by Isao Shinkai and Masatsugu Konishi were the first to reach the summit from the north (Chinese) side. Seven members of the team reached the summit, all without bottled ​oxygen​. In the same year, a large Polish expedition led by Janusz Kurczab attempted the unclimbed North West Ridge without a permit, but were ordered down from 8,200 m when they were observed from the Chinese side.



Wanda Rutkiewicz of Poland (right), Julie Tullis of Britain, and Liliane Barrard of France - became the first 3 women to stand on the summit. Unfortunately, Julie and Liliane died on the descent. This season later became known as the "worst summer on K2", with a total of 13 deaths. All three women were climbing without supplemental oxygen.


Base​d​ on new satellite data, rumors circulated that K2 was actually slightly higher than Everest. Italian Professor Ardito Desio organized surveys of K2 and Everest, which reaffirmed Everest's superiority and provided further proof (in mountaineer's minds) of divine injustice.


A new route (the North West Face) was established on the north side by a Japanese expedition led by Tomaji Ueki. The route joined the existing North Ridge route at 8,000 meters, but covered significant new terrain on the North West Ridge and the North West Face.


French climbers Pierre Beghin and Christophe Profit followed the North-West Ridge, diagonally traversed the North-West Face, and then reached the summit via the Japanese North Ridge route. Although they covered very little new terrain, the ascent was significant because they climbed the top portion of the route in alpine style, without the use of fixed ropes or fixed camps.


The Spanish climber Carlos Soria Fontán became the oldest person ever to summit K2, at the age of 65.


Disaster occurred on August 1, 2008, when eleven mountaineers from international expeditions died on K2. Three others were seriously injured. The series of deaths, over the course of the Friday ascent and Saturday descent, was the worst single accident in the history of K2 mountaineering.

Click the image to view a memorial to Jehan Baig and Mehruban Karim, two porters who died that day.


Despite several attempts, the K2 summit was not climbed for the next two climbing seasons.


On August 6, 2010, Fredrik Ericsson, who intended to ski from the summit, joined Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner on the way to the summit of K2. Ericsson fell 1,000 m (3,300 ft) and was killed. Kaltenbrunner aborted her summit attempt.


On August 23, 2011, a team of four climbers reached the summit of K2 from the North side. Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner became ​ the​ first woman to complete all 14 eight-thousanders without supplemental oxygen. Kazakhs Maxut Zhumayev and Vassiliy Pivtsov completed their eight-thousanders quest. The fourth team member was Dariusz Załuski from Poland.​


The year started with a vigorous Russian team aiming for a first winter ascent. The expedition ended with the demise of Vitaly Gorelik due to frostbite and pneumonia. The Russian team cancelled the ascent. In the summer season, K2 saw a record crowd standing on its summit—28 climbers in a single day—bringing the total for the year to 30.


On 28 July 2013, two New Zealanders, Marty Schmidt and his son Denali, died after an avalanche destroyed their camp. A guide had reached the camp they were at, but said they were nowhere to be seen and the campsite tent showed signs of having been hit by an avalanche.


65th Anniversary of the first ascent of K2. First all-Pakistani expedition summits K2. ​


Thank you to 8000ers.com and Eberhard Jurgalski for compiling this list.

1. Tamara Lunger (Italy)
2. Nikolaus Gruber (Italy)
3. Radek Jaros (Czech)
4. Travnicek Jan (Czech)
5. Adrian Hayes (UK)
6. Hassan Jan (Pakistan)
7. Ali Durani (Pakistan)
8. Rahmat Ullah Baig (Pakistan)
9. Ghulam Mehdi (Pakistan)
10. Ali (Pakistan)
11. Muhammad Sadiq (Pakistan)
12. Michele Cucchi (Italy)
13. Dawa Yangzum Sherpa (Nepal)
14. Pasang Lhamu Sherpa (Nepal)
15. Maya Sherpa (Nepal)
16. Giuseppe Pompili (Italy)
17. Amin Baig (Pakistan)
18. Ferran Latorre (Spain)
19. Chris Jensen Burke (New Zealand)
20. Lakpa Sherpa (Nepal)
21. Al Hancock (Canada)
22. Alexandros Aravidis (Greece)
23. Luo Jing (China)
24. Mr. Chhiring Sherpa (Nepal)
25. Mingma Gyabu Sherpa (Nepal)

26. Chhiji Nurbu Sherpa (Nepal)
27. Mingma Dorchi Sherpa (Nepal)
28. Ngima Dorchi Sherpa (Nepal)
29. Pemba Sherpa (Nepal)
30. Lakpa Sherpa (Nepal)
31. Ngatasi Sherpa (Nepal)
32. Lakpa Temba Sherpa (Nepal)
33. Samuli Mansikka (Finland)
34. Alan Arnette (USA)
35. Matthew Dupuy (USA)
36. Garrett Madison (USA)
37. Kami Rita Sherpa (Nepal)
38. Fur Kancha Sherpa (Nepal)
39. Kami Tshering Sherpa (Nepal)
40. Reza Shahlaee (Iran)
41. Zdravko Dejanovic (Macedonia)
42. Mingma Gyalje Sherpa (Nepal)
43. Boyan Petrov (Bulgaria)
44. Marcin Kaczkan (Poland)
45. Janusz Golab (Poland)
46. Miguel Angel Perez (Spain) – died on descent
47. Lien Choong Luen (Singapore)
48. Jamling Bhote (Nepal)
49. Fazal Ali (Pakistan)