Karakorum 2008: Crisis On K2


Yesterday I posted an article reporting the successful summit of K2 by the Norit Team with reports of others also topping out. At the time, the report was a bit sketchy on details, but the rumor was that there had been a casualty on the mountain, and there was little word of anything else that was happening.

Today, we have learned that not only did Serbian climber Dren Mandic perish on the mountain, but that there are a variety of climbers stranded between the summit and the Bottleneck on K2 after a large serac broke free and plunged down the mountain, taking the fixed ropes with it. Without those ropes, it will be practically impossible for the mountaineers to down climb that portion of the mountain.

At this time, it’s difficult to know exactly what’s happening on the mountain. Communications have been spotty at best, with some reports that there may be as many as 7 additional deaths, although I must stress that at this time, that is unconfirmed. As of now, the climbers stranded high on K2 are spending their third night in the Death Zone, while they wait for Sherpas and other climbers to attempt to rebuild the fixed lines.

For now, all we can do is wait, fingers crossed, and hope that the climbers get down in one piece. Check in with K2Climb.net for the latest updates in this ongoing crisis. My thoughts are with those climbers, their friends, and family tonight.

9 thoughts on “Karakorum 2008: Crisis On K2”

  1. Very bad news on K2, but so hard to get all the facts.
    Latest I have is that;
    “According to latest updates I can confirm seven casualties,” Adventure Foundation Pakistan vice president Mohammad Akram.
    “There are reports of nine casualties, but I cannot confirm it yet.”

    Let’s hope we have good news sooner rather than later.

  2. Grim situation, very reminiscent of 1986. Hoping for a better outcome.

    For accuracies sake, it’s worth pointing out that there is no such thing as the “Death Zone.” This term does not have any scientific basis in terms of human physiology. It’s essentially a media construct that sells books, articles, and movies.

  3. Yeah, it’s definitely grim. In these cases, you almost always know the outcome, even though you still want to hold out hope.

    And yes, the term labeled to the portion of a mountain above 26,000 feet called “The Death Zone” is not really an official term, but it is an accepted term in the mountaineering community. It is an apt term though, considering that at that altitude your body does begin to break down and slowly begin to die. It’s also true that you can only live a that zone for a few days max.

  4. JPFreek Adventure Magazine and its staff will certainly have the climbers and their families in our thoughts and prayers. Let’s pray and hope the unconfirmed reports of 9+ deaths is incorrect.

  5. I’m hoping that the confusion and miscommunication is leading to some false reports. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that these numbers are exaggerated and that they’ll still find some climbers alive on the mountain.

  6. Latest reports are sounding grim. Still hoping for a few more survivors.

    “And yes, the term labeled to the portion of a mountain above 26,000 feet called “The Death Zone” is not really an official term, but it is an accepted term in the mountaineering community. It is an apt term though, considering that at that altitude your body does begin to break down and slowly begin to die. It’s also true that you can only live a that zone for a few days max.”

    Sorry to be pedantic but this simply isn’t true. It falls under the urban legend category. Technically, anything above 18,000 feet is the so-called Death Zone according to physiologists who specialize in altitude research. The only reason 26k is trumpeted as a limit is due to the minimal equip and supplies that typically reach that point. With abundance of food, water, and bombproof shelter, people could live there quite a bit longer than a few days.

  7. It’s sounding worse as the updates come in. They now have names for the 11 dead, and but the details in the reports are still a bit sketchy.

    Clyde: I suppose in the purest sense, you’re right, if you could drag all the equipment you needed up to above 26,250 feet you could probably live indefinitely up there as long as you are constantly on oxygen. Without the O2 though, you will die, but as long as someone was shuttling oxygen to you, you could remain at that altitude or higher. With out the O’s though, your body soon begins to deteriorate.

    Pretty good report on it here from the UIAA Mountain Medicine Centre: http://www.8000metres.com/death-zone

  8. i am a also blogger.i know k2 is the second heighest mountain in the world.i have same information about k2

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