K2 just had its busiest climbing season ever

Hong Kong and Islamabad (CNN) — The world’s second highest mountain, K2 in Pakistan, has welcomed a record number of climbers this year amid a post-pandemic spate of fever at the summit.

Some 207 permits have been issued to climb K2, said Sajjid Hussain, a tourism official in Gilgit Baltistan, the region that borders China and is home to the Karakoram Mountains, a mountain range that spans all five Pakistani peaks. of more than 8,000 meters (26,000 ft).

K2, which reaches 8,611 meters above sea level, is considered by many mountaineers to be more technically challenging than Everest.

But the temperate weather in July, usually the best time of year to reach the summit, plus the relative ease of travel compared to previous years and a stable political situation in the country, are said to have contributed to the record number of climbs.

Another factor was pent-up demand that grew during the pandemic. With some of the world’s highest peaks inaccessible or difficult to access due to Covid-related border closures, many climbers have spent the past two years saving money and preparing to return to the mountains.

While K2 is physically more difficult to climb, it is significantly cheaper than Everest.

Permits to climb the world’s highest mountain cost $11,000 per person, and would-be climbers must also calculate travel costs to and from Nepal, clothing, equipment, food, and hired guides and Sherpas.

Meanwhile, a K2 climbing permit — which often covers the other four “eight-thousander” peaks nearby — can be obtained for $7,200 for a group of seven.

The number of permits was not the only record this year.

Mirza Ali, founder of Pakistan-based mountaineering company Karakorum Expeditions, tells CNN that a record 20 women have climbed K2 so far this summer.
Among that group are Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to reach the summit, and Jenn Drummond, the American looking to become the first woman to climb all seven second peaks, the second-highest mountains on any continent. .

K2 was the last mountain Drummond had to climb to set her historic record.

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