K2: No-O2 Double-Header and Sajid’s Second Summit

“Niels and Hugo have made it,” their friends announced from Base Camp. Ten days after summiting Broad Peak on a long, exhausting summit climb, Niels Jespers and Hugo Ayaviri have reached the top of K2 without supplementary O2 or high-altitude porters. Their achievement, nearly impossible if K2 was crowded, represents the bright side of an extraordinary season.

Niels Jespers (foreground) and Hugo Ayaviri (in the tent behind). Photo: Sophie Lenaerts


A commercial team led by Garrett Madison, three international guides, and a strong Sherpa team, have also summited. Madison’s strategy has paid off: His team rested for one day at lower Camp 3. Then, O2 assisted, they opted for a longer summit push with only a short break in Camp 4. The team comprised over 20 people, and the summiters’ names will come soon. According to the expedition leader’s tracking device, after summiting they have headed down to at least Camp 3.

Elia Saikaly (tracker here), Sajid Sadpara, Fazal Ali, and Pasang Kaji summited shortly before 8 am. This was Ali’s fourth K2 summit and Sadpara’s second, but it was not their primary objective.

The team hoped to find and retrieve the bodies of Sadpara’s father, Ali Sadpara, and friends John Snorri and Juan Pablo Mohr. The remains were located two days ago. Despite limited information and no details regarding realistic options for a recovery operation, there has been a heated discussion about what the climbers should do next. The fact is, it is the climbers’ call. No one else can decide how they should proceed.

Sajid Sadpara. Photo: Jasmin Tours


Ashgar Ali Porik of Jasmine Tours, managing the team’s Base Camp logistics, has just confirmed that the team will return to Ali Sadpara’s body on the way down from the summit. They plan to move his remains away from the normal route, before returning to Base Camp. “Once at Base Camp, they will announce future plans,” Ali Porik said.

No-go on the West Ridge

Yesterday, Ian Welsted and Graham Zimmerman reached Base Camp after retreating from nearly 7,000m on K2’s West Ridge. Although they didn’t complete their climb, their attempt makes for an amazing — and very contemporary — mountaineering story. They were thwarted by weather that was just too good.

“We were stopped in our tracks by some of the warmest temperatures either of us have experienced in the big mountains,” Zimmerman reported upon their return. “We were unable to go any further due to near-constant avalanches and rockfall down the route.”

Sunbathing at nearly 7,000m on K2. Photo: Graham Zimmerman


The pair had to progress at night and wait out the heat during the day. Temperatures in the shade reached 10ºC at 6,900m.

“I knew that the climate crisis was affecting these mountains but I can’t say that I anticipated getting scorched off the second-highest peak on the planet,” Zimmerman reflected.