K2 MOUNTAIN is earth’s second-highest mountain, is notoriously difficult – and sometimes deadly – to climb.
So where is it, and how did it get its name? Here’s all you need to know.
Where is K2 mountain?
K2 is part of the Karakoram mountain range that straddles the Pakistan-China border.
It’s the highest point of the Karakoram mountain range and the highest point in both Pakistan and Xinjiang.
Is K2 taller than Mount Everest?
K2 is the world’s second highest mountain, and is just 200 metres shorter than Mount Everest.
Often called the “savage mountain”, K2 stands at 8,611 metres whereas Everest measures 8,849 metres high.
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The name stuck after US mountaineer George Bell commented on his own attempt to top the mountain in 1953: “It is a savage mountain that tries to kill you.”
Treacherous sections include the infamous “bottleneck” which is prone to icefalls.
Eleven climbers were killed at the “bottleneck” in an avalanche in 2008.
As of August 2022, 95 people are recorded to have died trying to climb it.
One of only 14 mountains in the world that measure higher than 8,000m, K2 is widely thought to be the most demanding mountain to climb in winter conditions.
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A 1986 expedition led by George Wallerstein made an incorrect measurement showing K2 was taller than Mount Everest, and therefore the tallest mountain in the world.
A corrected measurement was made in 1987, but by then the claim that K2 was the tallest mountain in the world had already made it into many news reports and reference works.
In December 2020, Nepal and China announced together that Everest is 0.86m higher than previously officially calculated.
How far is K2 from Mount Everest?
K2 is located 900 miles northwest of Everest in the Karakoram section of the Himalayas along the Pakistan-China border.
How did K2 get its name?
K2 was named by Thomas Montgomerie who made the first survey of the Karakoram range from Mount Haramukh, roughly 200km to the south in the 1850s.
Montgomerie sketched the two highest peaks, calling them K1 and K2 – with K standing for Karakoram.
K1 was found to be known locally as Masherbrum – but K2 did not have a local name.
K2 continues to be the name by which the mountain is commonly known.
Italian climber Fosco Maraini argued K2’s impersonal name is appropriate for such a challenging mountain.
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He called the mountain: “Just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human.
“It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man – or of the cindered planet after the last.”