We’ve covered a couple of interesting events on K2 this past season. We could easily write up a recap on the events that occurred this year on Mount Everest (2018 saw a record number of summits) but K2 has a special place in our hearts and we feel since it’s a more challenging endeavor, it deserves a recap of its own.
At the beginning of July, prospects for summiting K2 were pretty few and far between. Nasty weather brought heavy snowfall and strong winds, both of which essentially stopped climbing teams in their tracks. As opposed to Everest, K2 has seen many seasons where no one was able to summit and 2018 was shaping up to be another of those bleak seasons. However, by mid-July, the weather took a turn for the better and K2 joined Everest this year in setting a record for the number of climbers to top out at the summit with more than 60.
The Japanese team led by Akira Oyabe put in most of the legwork this season. The team laid ropes up to Camp 2 but nasty weather made those efforts futile. Thankfully, the change in weather that occurred in mid-July allowed the routes to be fixed once more and on July 21st more than 30 people made the summit of K2. One of the more notable accomplishments belongs to Andrzej Bargiel, a Polish skier who became the first person to ski from K2’s summit down to base camp.
Sadly, the accomplishments this year on K2 and the other surrounding peaks were matched by an almost equal number of tragedies. Early in the season, climber Christian Huber perished in an avalanche on Ulter Sar. In early July we covered the tragic death of Canadian climber Serge Dessureault. On July 22nd, Japanese climber Kojiro Watanabe died during a fall while descending back down to base camp, having reached the summit hours before.
In a dramatic but ultimately amazing series of events, Russian climber Alexander Gukov was rescued on Latok I after being stranded for 6 days following the death of his climbing partner, Sergey Glazunov.
While K2’s season may be over, it’s left us with plenty to study and celebrate and next year promises to be just as exciting.