10 Aug 2008

11 Deaths on K2 Tie Record For 2nd Worse Himalayan Climbing Disaster

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K2 – More Dangerous than Everest

Freddie Wilkinson, in HuffPo of all places, gives a climber’s inside perspective on the recent K2 tragedy, critiquing some mainstream media accounts in places like the New York Times and National Geographic.

Roughly thirty people left the high camp in the predawn hours on Friday, August 1st, bound for the summit. The climbers were counting on the use of fixed ropes, set by an advance team of climbers. Delays quickly ensued when they realized that the fixed ropes weren’t strategically placed in the most difficult sections of the climb; more ropes needed to be leapfrogged from below. A Serb climber fell to his death and an aborted body recovery cost more time and took the life of a Pakistani porter. While some decided to return to high camp, as many as 17 climbers summited. The catastrophic serac avalanche caught the first climbers descending from the summit, sweeping several more climbers (the exact number has been variously reported as 3 or 4) to their deaths. Five to six more climbers perished who were stranded above the Bottleneck couloir at the time of the avalanche.

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