K2 Summit Tally Spikes From Zero to 24

Patience paid off for the K2 climbers who remained on the mountain after the first summit attempt failed last week because of dangerous conditions. A total of 19 people — a fraction of the 120 climbers who first showed up at K2 this season — reached the top between 3am and 8am Pakistan time today.

Nirmal Purja and four others had already summited the day before, bringing the total number of climbers to 24. Moreover, it seems that no one turned back, giving a rare success rate of 100%.

Below, the list of July 25 summiters, outfitted by Seven Summit Treks:

1. Maximo Gustavo Kausch Serantes M Argentina 🇦🇷
2. Karina Ragazzo Oliani F Brasil 🇧🇷
3. Stefanov Stefan Ivanov M Bulgaria 🇧🇬
4. Moeses Fiamoncini M Brasil 🇧🇷
5. David Roeske M USA 🇺🇸
6. Klara Kolouchova F Czech Republic 🇨🇿
7. Herbert Diethelm Hellmuth M Germany 🇩🇪
8. Johann Wenzl M Austria 🇦🇹
9. Kowalewski Waldemar Dominik M Poland🇵🇱
10. TEMBA BHOTE M Nepal 🇳🇵
16. Dilawar M Pakistan 🇵🇰
17. Sazed M Pakistan 🇵🇰
18. Yousuf M Pakistan 🇵🇰
19. Anja Karena Blacha-Germany 🇩🇪

File photo of Carla Perez of Ecuador, who summited K2 without bottled O2 yesterday. She also made it to the top of Everest, above, earlier this year.

As for yesterday’s summiters, Adrian Ballinger, Carla Perez and their team descended from Camp 4 today and are back in Base Camp. Purja already sped back to BC yesterday. After letting his boots and down suit dry for a couple of hours, he left for Broad Peak. He plans to climb up to Camp 2 today and reach the summit … tomorrow! All this was posted on his social media under the hashtag #norush. It’s good to see that Purja’s PR team has finally developed a sense of humor.

This was also a triumph for Seven Summit Treks, the Nepalese outfitter which been criticized because of the large size of its teams and the low bar they set for their clients’ past experience.

Lessons to learn?

Having the resources and personnel for a second summit try was key. Two other factors also made success possible. One, the extraordinarily good weather. There were even some convenient winds last weekend that swept away the troublesome snow above 8,000m. Two, the inspirational force of Nirmal Purja and his strong Sherpa team. He was absolutely determined to summit K2 on his record quest, and he and his party went first to break trail, fix ropes and serve as guinea pigs in the avalanche zones.

While Purja’s physical power is amazing, he is primarily a soldier rather than a mountaineer. His approach is not unlike that of the national expeditions that first tackled the 8,000’ers early in the 20th century. Here, Purja led a small army and applied military tactics and leadership to the mountain.

The question is, however, whether such tactics become the new norm among the listers — those stringing together a series of climbs, usually at speed. In the 21st century, with nothing left to conquer on the 8000’ers normal routes, each expedition will have to decide whether it is necessary or even wise to follow such methods.

The age of the Conquistadors of the Useless brought glory to a few, but it also led to many deaths on the mountains for the sake of a egoistic goal. Even today, some climbers will end up in Wikipedia, others with their names carved on a plate at the Gilkey memorial for dead climbers near K2 Base Camp.

Lino Lacedelli, the first man on the summit of K2, in 1954. The feat brought glory to Italy but also had a dark side: A bitter controversy ensued about the expedition tactics and the leaders’ behaviour toward Walter Bonatti and a porter who lost all his fingers when both were left outside for the night at 8,000m. Lacedelli and Compagnoni refused to help them, to avoid jeopardizing their summit chances the following day. Lacedelli apologized to Bonatti 50 years later, only to meet the latter’s bitter refusal to forgive and, least of all, forget.

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