20120530-Broad Peak 12th.jpg
Broad Peak, world's 12th highest mountain
Pakistan is home to five of the world’s 14 highest peaks, including K2, the second-highest mountain in the world. Nanga Parbat, at 8126 meters (26,660 feet), is Pakistan’s second-highest mountain and the world’s ninth highest. All of the mountains are found in the Karakorum.

The Karakoram Mountain Range is perhaps the world's mightiest and most impenetrable mountain range, more formidable than even the Himalayas themselves, which lie to the east. Of the fourteen 8000 meter (26,246 foot) peaks in the world four of them occupy an amphitheater at the head of the Baltoro Valley in the Karakorams. Among them is K2 (28,253 feet) the second highest mountain on Earth. Altogether there are 20 peaks over 25,000 feet in the Karakoram range. Karakoram means “Black Mountain.”

The world’s greatest concentration of high mountains, including K2, can be found in the remote Karakoram Mountains The Karakoram range is a dense group of mountains and glaciers 480 kilometers (300 miles) long and 240 kilometers (150 miles) wide. The Himalayas are to the east. On the western and northern side of the Karakoram are the three more great mountain ranges: the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan, the Pamirs in Tajikistan and the Tien Shen in China, all of which have peaks over 20,000 feet.

Highest mountains in the world in the Karakoram:
2) K2 (Godwin Austen) — Pakistan-China: 28,250 meters (8,611 feet)
9) Nanga Parbat — (technically in the Himalayas) Pakistan: 26,660 meters (8,125 feet)
11) Gasherbrum I — Pakistan-China: 26,470 meters (8,068 feet)
12) Broad Peak — Pakistan-China: 26,400 meters (8,047 feet)
13) Gasherbrum II — Pakistan-China: 26,360 meters (8,035 feet)
17) Disteghil Sar — Pakistan: 25,858 meters (7,882 feet)
21) Masherbrum — Kashmir2: 25,660 meters (7,821 feet)
22) Rakaposhi — Pakistan: 25,551 meters (7,788 feet)
23) Kanjut Sar — Pakistan: 25,461 meters (7,761 feet)
30) Saser Kangri — India: 25,172 meters (7,672 feet)
41) Haramosh Peak — Pakistan: 24,270 meters (7,397 feet)

Most of the mountain range lies in Pakistan but the northern side of K2 as well as many other mountains are situated in China. Sections of the range slip into Afghanistan, India, the former Soviet Union, and the Karakoram acts act as a natural barrier between these five countries. The most traveled pass between the mountain range is the 4,733-meter (15,530-foot) high Khunjerab Pass. Khunjerab Pass. The famed Karakoram Pass between Ladakh and Yarkand is 5,540 meters (18,176 feet) high.

Karakoram and Himalayas

The Karakoram range is sometimes considered to be part of the Himalayas but generally is not. The Indus River Valley is considered the dividing line between the world's two highest mountain ranges. Unlike the Himalayas which stretch out in a long 2,400-kilometers( 1,500 mile) arc with some relatively accessible pass between the major massifs, the Karakoram range is more tightly packed group and difficult to penetrate and pass through.

The Karakoram range is dramatically different from mountains around it. The Himalayas, for example, are more rounded and look like big melted and refrozen ice castles. They gently are built from a foot hills that rise from the plains of India. The Karakoram has big frozen peaks as well put what makes the range so spectacular are it sheer granite rock faces and spikey, shark-tooth pinnacles that rise like monoliths, towering thousands of meters, from the valleys. There are parts of the these mountains were you feel like you are in the jaws of some gigantic primeval beast.

Many of the most spectacular mountains are inaccessible areas that are difficult to reach by vehicle or even on foot. If you get a chance take a plane ride through the Karakoram, which really is the only way you can get into the heart of the range. From the air will see ridges that look like the edges of axe-blades and peaks that are shaped like almost perfect cones of ice.

Karakoram Glaciers

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Baltoro glacier, one of the
largest Himalayan giacers
Just as spectacular as its mighty peaks are the Karakoram's massive glaciers, some of which are the longest in the world outside the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Over 17,870 square kilometers (6,900 square miles) of the range is covered by permanent glaciers, an area almost the size of New Jersey. On the dry north side there aren't many glaciers, but on the southern side, where moisture-laden clouds crash into the peaks, you can find some of the longest valley glaciers in the world. The Batura Glacier is 57 kilometers (35 miles) long. The Sichuan and Hispar Glaciers join together to form an ice corridor 115 kilometers (72 miles) long. The most awesome of them all is the Baltoro Glacier, which sits underneath B.C. and has 30 tributaries and covers an area of 1,200 square kilometers (471 square miles).

The steepness of the Karakorams causes some of these glaciers to advance with astonishing speed. In 1904, the Hasaababd Glacier surged downhill at a speed of 16 feet an hour, light-year speed for a glacier. In two months it advanced six kilometers (four miles). The Ghongkumdam glacier on occasion extends so far it blocks the Shyok River, creating a huge dam and reservoir. When the ice dam finally bursts, massive torrential floods sweep everything in its path.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The Park encompasses the longest glaciers outside the Polar Regions, making up 40% of the park area. This forms the most important and fragile ecosystem of the entire region. Famous glaciers such as Hispar, Biafo, Baltoro and Chogo Lungma form complex glacial systems occupying valleys and in some cases entire watersheds. [Source: Government of Pakistan, Directorate General of Archaeology]

“Almost half of the park comprises glaciers which are famous for the extent of the regular upsurges they undergo. In the last century, 26 surges were detected in the Karakoram Range, rapid advances that involved at least 17 glaciers. In 1955, Kutiah glacier advanced 12 km. in only three months, the fastest glacial surge ever recorded. Glacier tongues enlarge and push forward at a rapid pace, becoming devastating flows of ice and rock, blocking valleys, closing roads and caravan routes and creating lakes.

“This trend in upsurge is part of a complicated phenomenon known as the "Karakoram Anomaly," where glaciers in the Karakoram mountains have overall remained stable and even increased in mass, in contrast to many glaciers nearby and worldwide which have receded during the past 150 years, particularly in recent decades. New studies reveal that the area has a unique weather pattern that keeps the ice cold and dry during the summer months. Unlike the rest of the Himalayas, the Karakoram region is not negatively affected by summer monsoon season, when although the ice melts a little, the melting is offset by heavy snowfall in the extremely cold winters.”

Karakorum Geology

Like the Himalayas the Karakoram was created 65 million years when the Indian subcontinent collided with the Asian plate. The most impressive mountains in the range are composed of crystalline rocks such as granite and gneiss, whiles others are made up of schists and sedimentary rock. Their sharp, spikey shapes are mainly the work of glaciers.

The lower mountains are comprised mostly of row after row of rugged, brown and grey, barren mountains punctuated by some green valleys, forests and towering snowcapped mountains and glaciers. The mountains lie outside the monsoon belt and as a result get much less precipitation than the Himalayas in Nepal and India. The lower elevations of the Karakoram mountains is often arid and lacks forest and vegetation. The valleys can be quite hot in the summer and require irrigation to grow crops.

According to a report submitted to UNESCO: The park is in a highly active tectonic zone. About 60 million to 20 million years ago, the Indian continental plate subducted under the Eurasian plate and, with the effects of extrusion and uplift of the Indian plate, several immense mountains were formed. Huge tectonic forces stemming from this collision of one plate with another have progressively thrown up the Karakoram Mountains making it one of the most tectonically-active locations in the world. [Source: Government of Pakistan, Directorate General of Archaeology]

“In an area of such intense geomorphological activity, it is not surprising that landslides are a common occurrence. The region of the park has an ambivalent relationship with these events, on the one hand they bring disaster and destruction, but at the same time they reconfigure the landscape, creating new landforms with potential for habitation and agriculture. For example, villages and their fields are often located directly on land resulting from former landslides.

“From a geological and structural point of view, the Central Karakorum National Park is located in an area of very active seismicity, one of the main triggering factors in the occurrence of landslides. To live in such a high risk environment, it is necessary to learn to cohabit with extremely dangerous phenomena and to identify the safest areas for the habitation. In this regard the Central Karkorum has international scientific and geomorphological hazard significance because of the on-going geological processes influencing its stability.”

Climbing in the Karakorum

Trango Tower is an incredible shark tooth of granite that to reaches a height of 6,238 meters (20,469 fee) and standst above an ice tributary of the Baltoro Glacier in the Karakoram range. Located in an area controlled by the military, Trango tower was not climbed until a British team reached the summit in 1976. A German team climbed the south Face in 1988. The sheer, dramatic 1000-meter (3000-foot) east face was not climbed until 1995—by three cowboy climbers from Wyoming who described their experience in the April, 1996 issue of National Geographic.

Among the obstacles endured the by the cowboy climbers were falling pieces of bowling-ball size ice, scrapes and cuts that healed slowly in the thin-oxygen air, a storm that lasted for over a week, frayed ropes, wide expanses of blank granite with no hand or footholds. The three climbers free climbed the entire cliff and carted nearly two tons of equipment up the cliff. From their perch high above the Karakorums, the climbers witnessed beautiful sunsets, spectacular mountains and glaciers, and mortar shells lobbed by Indian and Pakistani troops. For a while the world's highest base parachute camp was on 5,882-meter (19,300-foot) Great Trango Tower in August 1992. The record now is from a 7,720 meter (23,687 foot) perch on Mt. Everest

In an article on climbing K2 in the winter, Mark Jenkins wrote in National Geographic: “It’s difficult to explain why anyone would want to climb in the Karakoram during winter, a time when some of the world’s tallest mountains are transformed into an otherworldly arena. Hurricane-force winds regularly strafe their jagged contours armored in hard gray ice, and temperatures plummet to -80°F, lower than the average temperature on Mars. [Source: Mark Jenkins, National Geographic, February 25, 2018]

Rising along the borders of Pakistan, China, and India, these monstrous peaks — which dwarf the Rockies — have little tolerance for humans in any season, but especially in winter. They envelope climbers in blizzards, bury them in avalanches, freeze their blood, and snap their bones. Such brutal conditions have sent most mountaineers home to wait for summer — the traditional Karakoram climbing season.

K2, world's second highest mountain

Karakarom Climbers

On some of the climbers he met at K2 base camp, Graham Bowley wrote in New York Times: “In contrast to the porters’ cast-off clothes and sandals, these mountaineers wore expensive high-tech walking gear. A 39-year-old engineer from Germany, Dirk Grunert, obsessively drank liters of boiled water daily to cope with the altitude. A fit couple from Portugal maintained via satellite phone a Web site of their adventures. There were also three Polish mountaineers, including a loud man named Jacek Teler, on his sixth trip in the Karakoram, who conferred with the porters in broken Urdu, performed kung-fu exercises in the mess tent, and was clearly seeking a chance to live a role distant from reality as most of us know it. [Source: Graham Bowley, New York Times, June 27, 2009]

“They all had stories of near-death experiences in these mountains. Dirk turned back in deep snow near the top of Nanga Parbat. Another year, he was pinned for three nights by a whiteout just below the summit of Broad Peak and, yet another time, was narrowly missed by falling ice. Paulo Roxo, one of the Portuguese, related tumbling dangerously when his rope once failed. “I never can say why I climb, though danger is part of it and the unplanned nature of it,” he said.

“Everyone had a close friend who had died. I had come as a mere observer, intending only to trek to K2 base camp and no higher. Listening to the real climbers I could only reflect on the scale of their ambition to tempt fate and return to the perils, again and again.

Highest Mountains in the World in Pakistan

2nd highest in the world) K2 (Chhogori, Godwin Austen): 8,611 meters high (28,251 feet high); range: Baltoro Karakoram (35°52 53"N 76°30 48"E); first climbed: 1954; Pakistan-China [Source: Wikipedia]

9th highest in the world) Nanga Parbat: 8,126 meters high (26,660 feet high); range: Nanga Parbat Himalaya (35°14 14"N 74°35 21"E); first climbed: 1953

11) Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak, K5): 8,080 meters high (26,509 feet high); range: Baltoro Karakoram (35°43 28"N 76°41 47"E); parent mountain (the first higher mountain beyond the key saddle with at least 500 m prominence itself): K2; first climbed: 1958; Pakistan-China

12) Broad Peak: 8,051 meters high (26,414 feet high); range: Baltoro Karakoram (35°48 38"N 76°34 06"E); parent mountain (the first higher mountain beyond the key saddle with at least 500 m prominence itself) : Gasherbrum I; first climbed: 1957; Pakistan-China

13) Gasherbrum II (K4): 8,035 meters high (26,362 feet high); range: Baltoro Karakoram (35°45 28"N 76°39 12"E); parent mountain: Gasherbrum I; first climbed: 1956; Pakistan-China

15 ) Gasherbrum III (K3a): 7,946 meters high (26,070 feet high); range: Baltoro Karakoram (35°45 33"N 76°38 30"E); parent mountain: Gasherbrum II; first climbed: 1975; Pakistan-China

17) Gasherbrum IV (K3): 7,932 meters high (26,024 feet high); range: Baltoro Karakoram (35°45 38"N 76°36 58"E); parent mountain: Gasherbrum III; first climbed: 1958

19) Distaghil Sar: 7,884 meters high (25,866 feet high); range: Hispar Karakoram (36°19 33"N 75°11 16"E); parent mountain: K2; first climbed: 1960

21) Khunyang Chhish: 7,823 meters high (25,666 feet high); range: Hispar Karakoram (36°12 19"N 75°12 28"E); parent mountain: Distaghil Sar; first climbed: 1971

22) Masherbrum (K1): 7,821 meters high (25,659 feet high); range: Masherbrum Karakoram (35°38 28"N 76°18 21"E); parent mountain: Gasherbrum I; first climbed: 1960

25) Batura Sar: 7,795 meters high (25,574 feet high); range: Batura Karakoram (36°30 37"N 74°31 21"E); parent mountain: Distaghil Sar; first climbed: 1976

26) Kanjut Sar: 7,790 meters high (25,558 feet high); range: Hispar Karakoram (36°12 20"N 75°25 01"E); parent mountain: Khunyang Chhish; first climbed: 1959

27) Rakaposhi: 7,788 meters high (25,551 feet high); range: Rakaposhi-Haramosh Karakoram (36°08 33"N 74°29 22"E); parent mountain: Khunyang Chhish; first climbed: 1958

Book: “Sivalaya” by Louis Baume, a book of facts about the world's 14 highest mountains.


K2 (in the Karakorum range between China and Pakistan) is the second highest mountain in the world after Mt. Everest. The jewel of the Karakoram Range, it is 8,661 meters (28,251 feet) high, which is just 237 meters (778 feet) less than Everest. The height of these peaks is determined by surveyors who takes measurements from different sides of the mountain and then average the heights together. K2 is sometime called Mount Godwin Austen after the British scientist who surveyed it in 1860. It was first climbed in 1954.

K2, also known as Chhogori, is about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) northwest of Mt. Everest — between Baltistan in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, and Dafdar Township in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County of Xinjiang, China. K2 is the highest point of the Karakoram mountain range and the highest point in both Pakistan and Xinjiang. The chain of triangulation locations to determine the height of K2, began 2,900 kilometers (1,700 miles) away in Madras. Coordinates: 35°52 53"N 76°30 48"E [Source: Wikipedia]

K2 is a broad glacier-shrouded peak that looks like an almost perfect white pyramid on a plateau. It is considered one of the most beautiful but also one of the most dangerous mountains in the world. Because of it steep slopes, violent summers storms, and high risk of avalanches many mountaineers consider K2 to be a much more difficult climbing challenge than Everest. K2 was called the Savage Mountain by George Bell, a climber on the 1953 American Expedition, because "It's a savage mountain that tries to kill you."

K2 Name and Measurments

The name K2 is derived from the notation used by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of British India. K stands for Karakoram. According to NASA’s Earth Observatory: K2’s unusual name originated with a 19th century surveying project led by George Everest—the Great Trigonometrical Survey—that mapped and measured many of the highest peaks. Surveyors simply catalogued the peaks by number, giving each the prefix K for Karakoram followed by the number peak it was. K2 was the second mountain they came across. What the surveyors called K1, another peak in the area, was later changed to Masherbrum, the name used by local people. In the case of K2, there was no widely used local name, so the alphanumeric name stuck. [Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov ]

Thomas Montgomerie made the first survey of the Karakoram from Mount Haramukh, some 210 kilometers (130 miles) to the south in 1856. “2” for the second peak he noted on the horizon. He sketched the two most prominent peaks and labeled them K1 and K2. K2 was meant to only be a preliminary designation. Locally it is known as Chogori, variously translated as king of mountains or magnificent mountain. Patrick Meyer's play K2 is about a marooned climber on K2

In 1987 new calculations based on satellite measurements indicated that K2 rose to an elevation of 8,859 meters (29,064 feet) which would make it higher than Everest but the National Geographic Society has not accepted this figure. Similar calculations raise the height of Everest to nearly 30,000 feet. The Seattle-based astronomer that came up with the 8,859 meters measurement did so by measuring the altitude of a knoll near K2 using a 75-pound Doppler receiver (a device that measures distance through analysis of slight variations in the wavelength of radio waves) on the knoll and a satellite passing overhead and then using ordinary triangulation to determine the height of K2.

Drive to K2 Area Becomes an Ordeal Because of Taliban Threats

Graham Bowley wrote in New York Times: In 2009, “just reaching the mountain had become perilous. I had to travel, in a minibus that felt like a bubble, on a long and treacherous road that skirted Pakistan’s Swat Valley. There, at that moment, the Pakistani Army and the Taliban were fighting for control, making the lowlands south of K2 another of the most hazardous places on Earth. [Source: Graham Bowley, New York Times, June 27, 2009]

“My departure was timed so that the bus would pass the areas considered the most dangerous at dawn, when militants would be sleeping or at prayer. Still, the British Foreign Office and the United States State Department had warned sternly of kidnappings, and at gas stations along the highway, guards brandished Kalashnikovs. In Besham, the town closest to the troubles, men in smoky roadside bazaars met my gaze defiantly.

“Above the Indus River, the highway clung to the cliffs and I could only imagine what lay over the hilltops. At one checkpoint, I sank lower into my seat as police officers with guns and torches peered through the window. Driving through the half-light, I glanced down at my green-glowing BlackBerry, and read a New York Times news alert: “Officials say a huge bomb has exploded at the Pearl Continental Hotel in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least five people and wounding 25 others.” That would be about 60 miles away.

Reaching K2 on the Pakistan Side

Graham Bowley wrote in New York Times: “After two days I felt safer in the zone I had sought — the high mountains where I joined climbers spilling from guesthouses and jeeps and beginning the hike east toward the valley of the Baltoro glacier and the terrifying mountains of the inner Karakoram range.

“At Askole, a village of basic wooden homes where children played shoeless in the dirt, we hired eager Balti porters who jostled for our business and streamed by on the hot, dusty paths beside waters churning down from the glacier. The porters bent under our rucksacks and tents, heavy blue food barrels, paraffin stoves, kitchen chairs and tables, as they ushered chickens, goats, yaks and donkeys onto the trail. [Source: Graham Bowley, New York Times, June 27, 2009]

“Soon enough, though, I could marvel at their compensation for the dangers: the awe-inspiring reward of attaining altitude as our campsites among gentle poplars and willows gave way to the cold wasteland of the upper Baltoro glacier and, at last, on one blue clear morning, views of a parade of leviathan peaks: Trango Towers. The shining face of Gasherbrum IV. Broad Peak.

“At night, as we slept in our clothes in our tents on the ice and rocks, Nature reminded us of its power. Water bottles froze. The glacier cracked loudly and eerily, sounding like gunshots, as it shifted beneath us.

“Finally, after eight days of trekking and wheezing, my lungs feeling emptied of oxygen in the rarefied air, I sprang across a crevasse to reach K2 base camp at 16,000 feet. I had my first view up close of the mountain’s thick brown haunches rising into clouds.

At K2 Base Camp

Graham Bowley wrote in New York Times: “The base camp itself was a long stretch of rocks that snaked for a mile around the bottom of the peak. It was stark — but not, it turned out, as isolated as I had expected from the political problems plaguing Pakistan below. Last year, I was told, the camp was covered with the tents of more than 20 expeditions. This year, in addition to us, there were only two parties — five people from Switzerland, and an Italian and Swedish pair who were planning to ski from the summit; a mere handful more were expected in the coming weeks. [Source: Graham Bowley, New York Times, June 27, 2009]

“Even the death-defiers of the mountains had felt daunted by the need to pass through the human violence below. The mountain’s perils were something they felt they knew. War was something else.

“At K2, sitting on a mat in my kitchen tent, I spoke to a member of the Swiss expedition, Olivier Roduit, 43, a mountain guide for 20 years who had a young son back home. He had considered traveling from India in order to bypass Swat, but decided instead to fly directly from Islamabad to northern Pakistan. He said the reduced numbers were due to the political situation — and not the effect of last year’s disaster on K2, one of the worst in mountaineering history, in which 11 people were killed. “After the accident it is crazy, but it is actually good advertising” among climbers for the mountain, he told me. “I have many friends who have died. In Peru, the Alps, the Himalayas.”

“The next day, as we began our descent, there was one more surprise. A few hundred feet down, my 30-year-old traveling companion and photographer, Andrew Ensslen, an architect from London, collapsed; the problems were exhaustion and serious altitude sickness. Other climbers urged us to lose altitude quickly, but he could hardly walk. Even at base camp level, it turned out, the mountain could have proved fatal for us. I called for rescue on my satellite phone and four hours later two green military helicopters dropped out of the sky. We were taken away, swaying down the vast and frightening and wonderful Himalayan canyons, leaving our porters below, saved even from the task of trekking out from K2 to safety.

Gasherbrum I

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Gasherbrum I, world's highest 11th mountain
Gasherbrum I (Hidden Peak, K5) is the world’s 11th highest mountains. It is 8,080 meters high (26,509 feet high) and located in the Baltoro Karakoram range at coordinates 35°43 28"N 76°41 47"E.. Its parent mountain (the first higher mountain beyond the key saddle with at least 500 meter prominence itself) is K2. Situated on border of Pakistan and western China, Gasherbrum I was first climbed in 1958. It is often claimed that the word "Gasherbrum" means "Shining Wall", presumably due the spectacular face of Gasherbrum IV. In fact the name comes from the Balti words "rgasha" (beautiful) and "brum" (mountain) and thus means actually means "beautiful mountain".

According to NASA’s Earth Observatory: Gasherbrum I is situated along the same horseshoe-shaped ridge on the border of Pakistan and China as Gasherbrum II, though Gasherbrum I is 46 meters (151 feet) taller. An American team made the first ascent in 1958, following a ridge on the southwest face. When Andy Kaufman and Pete Schoening reached the broad, snow-covered summit after battling through deep snow, they used small hand mirrors to signal their success to teammates at a camp below. [Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov ]

There had been a total of 334 successful ascents as of March 2012, while 29 climbers had died trying—a fatality rate of about 9 percent. Gasherbrum I is the only eight-thousander that Americans climbed first. Austrians, in contrast, were among the teams to ascend five of the eight-thousanders first. Nepalese climbers were the first teams up four of them. French teams were the first up two eight-thousanders. And Chinese, Japanese, Swiss, Italian, German, New Zealand climbers were all among the first to summit one of the eight-thousanders.

Broad Peak

Broad Peak is the world’s 12th highest mountains. It is 8,051 meters high (26,414 feet high); and located in the Baltoro Karakoram range at coordinates 35°48 38"N 76°34 06"E. Its parent mountain is Gasherbrum I. Located on border of Pakistan and western China, Broad Peak was first climbed in 1957.

According to NASA’s Earth Observatory: Located just a few kilometers southeast of K2, Broad Peak is the third tallest mountain in the Karakoram Range. Its name comes from its unusually long summit ridge, which extends for about 2 kilometers. There is a snow-filled, saddle-shaped low point—or col—that separates the main summit from another high point to the north known as the central summit, which is just 31 meters (102 feet) shorter (8,016 meters versus 8,047 meters). [Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov ]

There is some discussion within the climbing community about whether the central summit deserves recognition as the 15th eight-thousander. Peaks in the Karakoram are only considered independent mountains if at least 500 meters of topographic prominence separates them from neighboring high points. If not, they are considered subsidiary peaks. While Broad Peak’s central summit doesn’t have enough prominence to be considered its own mountain, geographers think this could change in the future if the snow and ice that has collected in the col retreats enough.

An Austrian team was the first to climb Broad Peak, following a route up the southwest face in 1957. The team took no bottled oxygen and carried all of their own equipment rather than relying on porters. There had been a total of 404 successful ascents of Broad Peak as of March 2012, while 21 climbers had died trying—a fatality rate of about 5 percent.

Gasherbrum II

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Gasherbrum 2, world's
13th highest mountain
Gasherbrum II (K4) is the world’s 13th highest mountains. It is 8,035 meters high (26,362 feet high) and located in the Baltoro Karakoram range at coordinates 35°45 28"N 76°39 12"E). It parent mountain is Gasherbrum I. Situated on border of Pakistan and western China, Gasherbrum II was first climbed in 1956.

According to NASA’s Earth Observatory: The four Gasherbrum peaks are the highest points along an enormous horseshoe-shaped ridge on the border of Pakistan and China. The ridge encircles South Gasherbrum Glacier, a bowl-shaped mass of ice that flows into Baltoro Glacier, the longest glacier in the Karakoram (62 kilometers, or 39 miles). Gasherbrum II, the thirteenth tallest mountain in the world and the second tallest in the Gasherbrum group, is on the northernmost section of the ridge and about 10 kilometers (6 miles) southeast of K2—the tallest mountain in the Karakorum. [Source: earthobservatory.nasa.gov ]

An Austrian team was the first to reach Gasherbrum II’s summit, following a route up the south face along the southwest ridge in 1956. The Austrian team pioneered a new approach to climbing. During the ascent, night overtook the climbers at about 7,500 meters (24,600 feet). Rather than turning back to camp, they spent the night huddled near a cliff with no gear other than what they were carrying—a technique known as bivouacking. It was the first time a team deliberately bivouacked the night before attempting to summit an eight-thousander.

Today, Gasherbrum II is considered one of the safest and easiest eight-thousanders to climb. Over the years, climbers have skied, snowboarded, parachuted, and even hang-glided down from the summit. There had been more than 930 successful ascents of Gasherbrum II as of 2012, while only 21 people had died trying—a fatality rate of about 2 percent, the second lowest for the 8,000 meter peaks.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (tourism.gov.pk), Official Gateway to the Government of Pakistan (pakistan.gov.pk), The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Wikipedia and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated February 2022

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