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36 K2 Mountain Profile: Part II (1974-2012)


For the final part of our two-part series, Steve Swenson returns to the history of K2 (8611m) in 1974, as the fighting in Kashmir subsides and the Karakoram Range reopens to the outside world. The 1970s and 1980s on the world’s second highest mountain are a time of intense contrasts and cultural diversity, of boldness and creativity, conflict and tragedy. Although, since the 1990s, a form of commercialization has spread to the mountain’s normal routes, K2’s adventure history may not be over: the potential for visionary new climbs and exploits remains. So, too, lingers the question of how future alpinists might rise to these challenges. As Kurt Diemberger once asked: “How many times will we go to K2? Each time new facets of the crystal shine. Each step is a step into boundless possibility” (The Endless Knot, 1989). From Pakistan, Japan and Poland, Nazir Sabir, Naoe Sakashita and Przemyslaw (“Przemo”) Piasecki contribute their own perspectives on the eternal fascination of this one protean peak.