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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Golden Jubilee of first Ascent of K2. (2004-11)

Pakistan has some of the richest mountain ranges, the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush and the Karakoram converging in the Northern Areas capped with some of the world's tallest peaks among them K2, the world's second highest at 8611m known to locals and ancient Tibetans as Chogori.

It is the world's biggest pyramid of rock, ice and snow with its great-serrated slopes and the most elegant mountain standing alone, dominating the entire surroundings.

Discovered by Sir Godwin Austin in 1861 its 'perfect cone' 'astounded' Colonel Francis Young Husband in 1887 when he first saw it. William Martin Conway then arrives on the scene in 1892 in the great ice junction, which he named Concordia. But it was not until 1909 when the Duke of Abruzzi Expedition reconnoitred K2 that a good account of the mountain became available. The Southeast ridge by which he made his aborted attempt is still known as the Abruzzi Ridge that has now become the normal expedition route on K2.

The great south face, 3500m high, offers the most familiar look by which photographers have helped to fix its image. The famous Abruzzi Ridge rises above the Godwin Austin Clacier directly to summit of the shoulder. The South-South West ridge often known as the "Magic Line" which is just behind the Angels peak is a 2300m sheer climb from the Negretto Saddle. Its North face was explored in 1937 by Erie Shipton.

After a number of failed attempts by mainly Americans and Italians it was in 1954 that an Italian expedition, under the leadership of Professor Ardito Desio, got the summit. Two Italian members of this team namely Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedilli became the first to scale the summit from where they witnessed a "dream like world".

The ascent of K2 was a great event not only for Italy but the whole mountaineering world. Having been summited the mountain remained unclimbed for another spell of over 20 years. A few attempts were made between 1974 and 1976 but were not successful.

1977 was the year when new faces appeared on the Baltoro and in the same year a large Japanese/Pakistahi team put seven climbers on the top of K2. Among them Ashraf Aman became the first Pakistani to have scaled K2 on 31 st of July 1977. Nazir Sabir (the only Pakistani to have scaled Everest in 2000) summited K2 via West Ridge - a more technically challenging route - with Waseda University Alpine Club on August 7, 1981.

Rajab Shah and Mehrban Shah reached the top of K2 with a team from Holland in 1995.

Since the early years of the 20th century over a 100 attempts have been made on K2, out of which nearly one-third succeeded. The ascent of K2 has claimed many lives. Climbers describe it as the mountaineers' mountains for the sheer skill that is required to negotiate its technical passage up the pyramid from almost any route. Date of Issue (July 31, 2004)