How we climb K2

10 Jul 2013

For those not aware of how one climbs an 8000 metre mountain, here is the brief summary. It takes 6-8 weeks to climb because even if you could get a helicopter to the top (which you can't), you'd be unconscious within minutes due to the lack of oxygen. Hence why there are no shortcuts with big mountains and you have to climb in stages - so called rotations - to get your body used to the lack of oxygen at high altitudes; the body responding by producing more red blood cells to carry more oxygen.

For K2, Base Camp is at 5000 metres, Camp 1: 6100m, Camp 2: 6800m, Camp 3: 7300m and Camp 4 at approx. 7800m. These are big elevation gains, the mountain is steep, dangerous and committing, thus the acclimatization tends to be fast tracked compared to other 8000m peaks, Due to our delayed arrival at Base Camp it will be even more so. We are thus looking at a first rotation of climbing to camp 1, staying one or two nights and either touching Camp 2 or, if feeling ok, staying a night there before returning to Base Camp. For our second rotation, it will follow a similar format of climbing up to Camp 2, staying one or two nights before touching or sleeping one night at Camp 3 before returning to Base Camp. On each of these rotations we will be carrying and depositing kit at the camps in preparation for our summit push. We will only stay at Camp 4 on that summit push. That's the theory but totally dependent on the weather and flexibility is the key. 

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