Russians all set to tame the “Savage” K-2 in an unprecedented winter expedition Part-1

Some of the best winter mountaineers of the world, nick-named as “Ice Warriors” by the National Geographic Magazine, will be pitched in another attempt to climb the deadly mountain in the thick of the harsh Karakorum winters. Rising to a colossal 8.611 meters
above sea level, K-2 remains as one of the few 8000ers which are yet to be climbed in winters and with the highest ratio of causalities, the mountain poses a serious challenge to the team which comprises of renowned winter mountaineers Alexey Bolotov, Gennady
Kirievskiy, Vladimir Belous, Nikolai Totmianin, Valery Shamalo, Gleb Sokolov, Vitaliy Gorelik, Illias Tukhvatullin, Andrey Mariev, Vadim Popovich, Evgeny Vinogradskiy, Nikolay Cherny, Sergey Bychkovskiy, Igor Boriseko and Vladimir Kuptsov.

Most of the members of the expedition have already climbed all the 14 8000ers in the world and many also have the distinction of pulling in successful ascents of the 8000ers in winters.

The winters in the Karakorums are probably the harshest when compared to the adjacent Himalayan peaks. Temperatures in Skardu alone have dropped to -11 degrees Celsius. Previous attempts to climb the Savage Mountain date back to 2003 when the Poles spearheaded
the ambitious expedition, which later turned out to be a fiasco. The Russians will have a close check of what could go wrong, driving useful lessons from the Polish-Kazakh expedition in 2003.

The 16 multi-award winning climbers are hoping to rewrite history when there has only been one successful attempt of any of the Pakistani 8000ers in the recent years. Karakorum winters pose a serious threat to the aspiring climbers when the temperatures
not only drop well below to what is normally experienced in the Himalayan 8000ers, but the shearing winds are one of the greatest challenges for the teams heading up to K-2 in winters. The winds not only churn out unwelcomed blizzards but also increase the
chance of frostbite and dreadful avalanches on the gigantic Granite rock.

Italian Simone Moro and his American compatriot Cory Richards successfully peaked the Gasherbrum 1 last year, marking it the first successful winter ascent of any of the five 8000ers of Pakistan. Out of the 14 peaks, only the Pakistani 8000ers are the ones
which have never been successfully scaled in winters.

2003 rewind

Iconic winter climber Krzysztof Wielicki of Poland led the team of some of the best known winter mountaineers in first-of-its-kind attempt to scale the dreaded peak. Members included Jacques Olek, Jacek Berbeka, Marcin Kaczkan, Piotr Morawski, Jerzy Natkanski,
Maciej Pawlikowski, Jan Szulc and Dariusz Zaluski – basically the cream of Polish winter climbing. Georgian Gia Tortladze, Uzbek Ilias Thukvatulin, and Kazakh high altitude steam engines Denis Urubko and Vassiliy Pivtsov completed the group. CTO Bogdan Jankowski,
MD Roman Mazik and Monika Rogozinska (media) ran the operation from BC.

Reported Monika on February 18: "The upper base is buried in a snowstorm. K2 roars with hurricane winds from behind a wall of fog. Most mountaineers have descended to lower altitudes, where it is warmer. Some will not return."


To be continued….