Second Fatality on K2: Kojiro Watanabe

In the second fatality of the K2 season, Japanese climber Kojiro Watanabe has died while descending from his successful summit bid.

Watanabe had been part of 10-person Japanese team, which had spent the last two years preparing for K2. They arrived in Pakistan in late May to maximize their chances. They toiled to break the route to Camp 2 throughout late June, but heavy snowfalls kept wiping out their work.

The Japanese expedition, led by Akira Oyabe.

After a long and patient wait, the team finally made their summit push on July 22. Six climbers and two high altitude porters reached the top around 13:00 local time. Unfortunately, celebrations were short-lived. Watanabe fell to his death during the descent, at around 8,300m. The accident occurred at the Bottleneck, a notoriously dangerous couloir located 400m below the summit, beneath overhanging seracs.

Four routes to the summit of K2 pass the Bottleneck. Photo: Rolf Zemp

It’s not immediately apparent what caused the fall. This marks the second death on K2 this season, after Serge Dessureault was killed just below House’s Chimney on July 7.