Know the K2 routes before you go. Only the hardest, wildest, and fittest mountaineers strive to conquer K2, unquestionably the King of Mountains. It has long been regarded as the most difficult climb, with Mount Everest frequently being compared to being a piece of cake.
Many have lost their lives throughout the years trying to reach the top of this massive peak. K2 has accumulated one of the greatest portfolios of mountaineering mishaps in history as a result. There have been other disasters before the 2008 K2 Disaster, which is a prime illustration of its risks.
Achille Compagnoni was the first to scale the peak on July 31, 1954, and since then, other ascent routes have appeared on its slopes.
You won’t go anywhere without a guide, whether or whether you’re insane enough to try. To reach K2’s summit, mountaineers often follow one of these 10 pre-established routes.
The Abruzzi Spur Route on K2 (F)
The Abruzzi Spur is K2’s go-to route, with 75% of climbers tackling this pass that is located on the Pakistan side of the mountain. This route gets its name from Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi who first attempted to traverse it in 1909.
The Abruzzi Spur passes along some of the mountain’s most technical climbs, “House’s Chimney” and “The Black Pyramid.” It also sees climbers up the “Bottleneck,” which is located just to the left of dangerous seracs. It was in this location that, in 2008, a series of accidents lead to the deaths of 11 climbers.
The North Ridge Route on K2
The North Ridge can be called the most dangerous route to the summit of K2. At most, two teams can dare the attempt at a time. This route is accessed via the Chinese side of the mountain, passing some of the most technical areas of the mountain.
The Northeast Ridge Route on K2
This route finishes on the uppermost part of the Abruzzi route – the route was first climbed by an American team of four climbers in 1978
The West Ridge Route on K2 (A)
The West Ridge Route of K2 begins further away at Base Camp and on the Negrotto Glacier; it was first climbed in 1981. the technical aspects of this climb include traversing an unpredictable landscape of rocks and snowfields and setting fixed ropes through the West Face.
The Southwest Pillar (Magic Line) Route on K2 (C)
The Southwest Pillar Route is a technically challenging route considered to be the second most demanding. It was first climbed in 1986 by a Polish-Slovak expedition. The only other known successful attempt to climb this route was accomplished by Jordi Corominas of Spain in 2004.
Legendary mountaineer Reinhold Messner reportedly viewed this route and called it “suicidal” in 1979 and chose to ascend via the Abruzzi Spur instead. It is accessed via the Pakistan side and features some of the mountain’s steepest sections full of icy rock.
The South Face (Polish Line, Central Rib) Route on K2 (D)
The Southe Face Route of K2 is the most dangerous and demanding of all. It was first climbed in 1986 by Jerzy Kukucka and Tadeusz Piotrowski, who was killed on the descent. Entrance to this route is via the Pakistan side, and it starts off the first part of the Southwest Pillar before deviating into a highly exposed, snowy cliff area.
This route proceeds through a gully, “The Hockey Stick,” and rises through another completely exposed cliff-face. From here, climbers are met with more exposed terrain before it meets up with the Abruzzi Spur 1,000 feet before the summit. The route is very avalanche prone, which is partly why no one has ever attempted another summit via this route.
The Northwest Face Route on K2
The Northwest Face Route of K2 was first ascended in 1990 by a Japanese team. Access to this route is via the Chinese side and begins at K2 Glacier where it then climbs the Northwest Ridge before it turns through the rugged, rocky and snowy terrain of the Northwest Face all the way to the summit.
The Northwest Ridge Route on K2
The Northwest Ridge Route of K2 was first ascended in 1991 and it finishes on the North Ridge.
South-Southeast Spur (Cesen Route) (E)
The South-Southeast Spur Route was first ascended in 1994 by a Spanish-Basque team. Access to this route is via the Pakistan side of the mountain, and it is considered to be the safest way to the summit because it avoids Black Pyramid, the first big obstacle on the Abruzzi Spur. It connects with the Abruzzi Spur about two-thirds of the way up the mountain.
After various failed attempts on the Abruzzi Spur, Fredrik Sträng attempted to summit K2 via the Cesen Route in 2017. He did not succeed.