Three American climbers have successfully topped out on Saser Kangri II, the second highest unclimbed peak in the world. According to the Hardwear Sessions Blog, the trio began their ascent on August 21st and reached the summit on the 24th, returning to Advanced Base Camp the following day.
The team consisted of American Alpine Club President Steve Swenson, Mark Richey, who is a past president of that organization, and Mountain Hardwear athlete Freddie Wilkinson. The three men traveled to a very remote region of northern India to make the climb up the 7518 meter (24,665 ft) peak which features a 1700 meter (5577 ft) face that is extremely technical in nature.
The team did receive a major scare however, as Swenson suffered a severe sinus infection during the ascent. That infection turned into a major respiratory ailment that required that he be airlifted from the mountain on August 26th. Steve ended up spending a few days in the hospital while Mark and Freddie packed their gear and trekked out the traditional way, rejoining him in the town of Leh on the 30th.
Saser Kangri II was one of the last major unclimbed peaks in the world and is a significant accomplishment for Swenson, Richey, and Wilkinson. The highest peak, Gangkhar Puensum, is located in Bhutan and stands 7570 meters (24,836 ft) in height. That mountain is likely to remain unclimbed, at least for the foreseeable future, as it is deemed a holy place, and climbing is strictly forbidden by the Bhutanese government. The new “second highest unclimbed” mountain is Labuche Kang III, located in Tibet, not far from Cho Oyu. That peak is 7250 meters (23,786 ft) in height.
Congrats to Steve, Mark, and Freddie on a job well done. If you’d like to read more about their expedition, Steve is posting excellent post-climb reports on his blog, which can be found here. Also, check out the video below of Wilkinson sharing thoughts on the climb.
Kraig is an outdoor and adventure travel writer based in Nashville, TN. Over the course of his career, he has contributed to numerous online and print outlets, including Popular Mechanics, Gear Junkie, Outside Online, National Geographic, Digital Trends, Business Insider, TripSavvy, about.com, and of course The Adventure Blog.