It is being widely reported today that Field Touring Alpine and Fabrizio Zangrilli are joining forces to lead the first commercial expedition on K2 this summer, the first of its kind on what many consider to be the most dangerous mountain on Earth.
The expedition will consist of seven paid, invite-only, clients, all of whom are required to have 8000m experience. The team will set out for the mountain in June, when the traditional Karakorum season begins, and will climb the typical route along K2’s south east ridge.
Zangrilli was selected for us experience on the big peaks, having climbed on K2 three times in the past, but also having Everest, Shisha Pangma, Makalu, Cho Oyu, Gasherbrum II, Nuptse, Ama Dablam, and a number of other major Himalayan peaks on his resume. He is also an accomplished guide, having led commercial teams on many of those mountains in his 22 year career as well.
So, what are your thoughts on this one? Commercialized climbing coming to K2? Does that seem like a good idea? Was it inevitable? I’m inclined to believe that it was bound to happen at some point, and it appears that time is now. If Field Touring is successful with this venture, you know that other companies will follow, and in 2010 I wouldn’t be surprised to see two or three other commercial teams on the mountain. The scary thing is that K2 is orders of magnitude more dangerous than Everest, and a crowded route or unprepared climbers, would be extremely dangerous. On top top of that, there probably aren’t a lot of guides qualified to lead a team on the mountain, at least at this time.
Perhaps I’m overreacting, and it’s just some romantic part of me that wants to see K2 remain the “Mountaineers’ Mountain”. I also recognize that this is just one expedition so far. But, it has to start somewhere, and usually it leads down a slippery slope rather quickly. The thoughts of the disaster from last year still linger in my mind as well, and that definitely has me wondering if this really is a good idea.
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