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Celebrating 60 years of K2, with the Pakistani flag on top

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Celebrating 60 years of K2, with the Pakistani flag on top

In 1856, the mountain was surveyed by the European survey team. Thomas Montgomerie was the member of the team who designated it “K2” for being the second peak of the Karakoram Range.

The other peaks were originally named K1, K3, K4 and K5, but were eventually renamed Masherbrum, Gasherbrum 4, Gasherbrum 2 and Gasherbrum 1 respectively.

Later, in 1892, Martin Conway led a British expedition that reached “Concordia” on the Baltoro Glacier.

Oscar Eckenstein, Aleister Crowley, Jules Jacot-Guillarmod, Heinrich Pfannl, Victor Wessely and Guy Knowles made the first attempt on K2 in the year 1902 via the Northeast Ridge.

It took “fourteen days just to reach the foot of the mountain”, wrote Crowley in his book ‘Confessions of Aleister Crowley’. Back then, no lightweight climbing equipment existed and the explorers relied more on their instincts and will power than anything else to push for greater heights.

After five serious and costly attempts, the team reached 6,525 meters although considering the difficulty of the challenge, and the lack of modern climbing equipment or weatherproof fabrics, Crowley’s statement that “neither man nor beast was injured” highlights the pioneering spirit and bravery of the attempt.

The failures were also attributed to sickness (Crowley was suffering the residual effects of malaria), a combination of questionable physical training, personality conflicts, and poor weather conditions – of 68 days spent on K2 (at the time, the record for the longest time spent at such an altitude) only eight provided clear weather.

After the failed attempt, the second attempt was made in 1938 by an American expedition led by Charles Houston.