K2: Russians On Top!!!

It’s been a long time coming, and they had to claw for every inch of the mountain, especially near the end, but K2Climb.net is reporting that Andrew Mariev and Vadim Popovich have have topped out on the Western Face of K2.

The Russian team came to K2 this year to challenge the Western Face, which had never been climbed before. They set down the first direct route on that side of the mountain, and after spending weeks establishing high camps, fixing lines, and waiting out the weather, they finally made it to the top. The details are still a bit sketchy, as word of their success has just come in, but it seems that they were well positioned to make a run at the summit over the next few days.

Earlier today there were three climbers in Camp 7, which had just recently been established about 100 meters below the summit. Six more members of the team were above 8000m and safely in C6 awaiting their crack at the mountain as well. They woke up this morning to find red storm clouds around the mountain, and were skeptical of their chances. Most of the climbers were in a holding position while Popovich and Mariev set out to make a scouting run. Apparently they liked what they found, as the two just kept on going, radioing from the top at 8:15 AM EDT.

Wish so many climbers at the high camps, I would expect that a few more will make their own bids for the top in the next day or two. The team has worked long and hard for this victory, and while many purists don’t like the siege style of climbing, in this case there was no other choice. The Western Face of K2, perhaps the most difficult of all the 8000m peaks, was not going to go down easily. The Russians did lay siege to the mountain, and now they’ve come out on top at last, with none of them using supplemental oxygen.

I offer a hearty congratulations to the entire team on a job well done. I hope the weather clears enough so that more of these amazing mountaineers can stand at the summit of K2. After that, lets keep our fingers crossed for them so that they all get down safely. The summit is only half-way home.

I’ll post more details and updates as they become available.

Kraig Becker

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