A team of Nepalese mountaineers made history by climbing the world’s second highest peak – Pakistan’s K2 – during the winter season, a local Alpine club official said. On the same afternoon, a Spanish mountaineer fell and died lower in the perilous mountain.
Pakistan Alpine Club secretary Karrar Haideri said 10 Nepalese Sherpas reached the summit around 5 p.m. (12 p.m. GMT) on Saturday.
“It has never been done by anyone before in winter,” Haideri said.
At 8,611 meters (28,251 feet), K2 is the most important peak on the Pakistani side of the Himalayan range and the second tallest in the world after Mount Everest.
“WE DID IT,” tweeted Seven Summit Treks, a trekking company leading one of the expeditions.
“Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt K2 this afternoon at 5:00 p.m. local time,” the group said.
Jan 16, 2021
WE DID IT, BELIEVE ME WE DID IT – TRIP TO THE SUMMIT NEVER DONE BEFORE
🦾The “ wild mountain ” of Karakorum was summoned during the most dangerous season: WINTER
Nepalese mountaineers finally reached the top of Mt. K2 (Chhogori 8611m), this afternoon at 5:00 p.m. local time. pic.twitter.com/O530X3WgKh
– Seven treks to the top 🇳🇵 (@ sst8848) January 16, 2021
But the success was overshadowed by the death of a Spanish mountaineer, Sergi Mingote, further down the mountain.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez described him as a “great sportsman” on Twitter, writing: “He wanted to continue making history … and a tragic accident ended his life.”
The Pakistan Alpine Club said in a statement that the climber fell while descending to base camp shortly before 4 p.m.
Secretary Haideri added that the club was helping coordinate the evacuation of the body, but weather conditions were expected to be bad overnight, it would be on Sunday morning.
The summit is known as the ‘Wild Mountain’ for the harsh conditions there, where winds can blow to over 200 km per hour (125 miles per hour) and temperatures can drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius. (minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit).
Haideri said four international climbing teams arrived about a month ago to try and climb K2 – the last peak above 8,000 meters in the world not to be climbed in winter.
The group of 10 Nepalese have so far been the only successful team, he added.
Haideri revealed that the climbers, who called themselves Sherpas, had previously been split between different teams but have formed a new group to claim the feat on behalf of Nepal.
Since the first attempt in 1988, only a handful of winter expeditions have been attempted on the summit of the Karakoram Range, along the Chinese border that leads to the Himalayas.
Haideri said no climber had reached more than 7,750 meters (25,426.5 feet), until Saturday, when favorable weather conditions allowed the climbers to progress.
According to the Alpine Club, an unprecedented number of climbers, totaling 48 members, converged on the mountain this winter – more than all previous winter expeditions combined.
‘Recognition We Deserve’
The news sparked joy across Nepal, long used to seeing foreign climbers break records.
“For decades the Nepalese have helped foreigners reach the heights of the Himalayas, but we haven’t gotten the recognition we deserve,” said famous Nepalese mountaineer Kami Rita Sherpa, who has climbed 24 times. ‘Everest a record.
“The spotlight has always been on foreign climbers. It’s wonderful that today, in K2, 10 Nepalese have made history and shown our courage and strength.
Nepalese guides, usually ethnic Sherpas from the valleys around Everest, are considered the backbone of the Himalayan rock climbing industry for taking enormous risks in transporting gear and food. , mending ropes and repairing ladders.
“The Sherpas are the best climbers in the world, and it’s a proud moment for us. But reaching the top is only the first half. We now hope that they can all come back down safely, ”warned Ang Tshering Sherpa, former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.