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The Shared Summits K2 Expedition 

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Why Climb K2?

K2, at 28,253 feet (8611 meters), is the second highest mountain in the world and is thought to be the ultimate mountaineering achievement. A truly awe-inspiring sight, its giant pyramid-shaped peak rises for over two vertical miles above the surrounding glaciers. Knife edged ridges and impenetrable cliff faces make the mountain seem unclimbable. Upon these slopes, epic adventures have been playing out since 1902. The stories of sacrifice and teamwork, jealousies and hubris, suffering and triumph, add to the lure of the peak.

Every year a handful of the world's best mountaineers approach the remote base camp, anxious about the challenges that lay above. They come to test themselves upon this iconic mountain, knowing the odds are stacked against them, but hoping that they will be rewarded with a shot at the summit.

The Savage Mountain

K2 has earned its nickname: "The Savage Mountain." All of the books chronicling K2 expeditions focus on the risks, resulting tragedies, and the heroism demonstrated by the climbers. The movies (K2 and Vertical Limit), documentaries (Women of K2) and countless articles about the peak all paint a portrait of extremes. K2, the world's second tallest peak, easily eclipses Everest as the hardest mountain in the world. While the crowded slopes of Everest expose human weaknesses, which have been so well chronicled in the media, the supra-human challenges of K2 often yield tales of teamwork and self-sacrifice. The savageness of K2 brings out the nobility of man.

K2: the Last Great Challenges

While ascending K2 by any route is a major undertaking, the greatest challenges in mountaineering can be found on the unclimbed faces of the world's hardest peaks. K2 historians point to a handful of "last challenges": among them, the East Face. Expedition Leader Chris Warner has attempted K2 twice before, during seasons when not a single climber summited. His experiences on K2 have lead to a few critical observations: the bad weather comes from the West, slams into the upper mountain, with high winds which then whip across the North and South faces. While climbers are pinned down even on "calm days" on these routes, and the snow dangerously "slabs" up, the East Face can still be climbable. Late season (mid July to late August) snowfalls tend to bring the biggest accumulations, and this snow rarely settles. In addition, in recent years (as well in the 80s) June has had the most stable weather. In fact, global climate change has resulted in K2 becoming more dangerous during the "peak climbing" season of late July and August. The plan is to depart the US in mid-May and launch an early season attempt on the prominent buttress that ascends the East Face.

If successful, an ascent of this route will mark only the 9th time that an American team has summited any of the fourteen 8000 meter peaks by a new route, despite nearly 80 years of Himalayan climbing history. Many of today's most successful climbers have settled into a race to summit them all by their easiest routes.

The Climbing Style

K2 requires the team to acclimatize while preparing the route. The East Buttress ascends from 18,000 feet to 24,000 feet with numerous ice cliffs and towers (seracs) blocking the way. The route is accessed by crossing a complex glacier system and ascending snow slopes to a rocky spur. Above this, rock and ice climbing techniques will be needed to reach the ridge crest. Camp 1 would be located at 20,000 feet, in a sheltered section of the ridge. The challenges above this section will focus on climbing in and around the seracs that slice across the buttress' crest. Camp 2 will be placed at 23,000 feet. Due to the dangers and technical challenges of the buttress, this part of the route will be fixed with ropes (approx 5000 feet). Once the route is established to the upper glacier, the summit bid is on. Departing Camp 2 at 2 a.m. with the sun rising at 4 a.m., the team will follow the ropes to the glacier and then strike out for Camp 3 (25,000 feet). Camp 4 will be placed at 26,400 feet, on the "Shoulder" where they intersect the Abruzzi Route (original ascent route). Summit day takes the climbers into the famed Bottleneck (scene of many disasters), across the 55-degree Traverse pitches and up the final ridge to the summit. The team will fix 800 feet of rope on summit day to safeguard the descent and facilitate the filming.

Employing this style on K2 seems to be the best compromise between safety and purity. K2 has never been ascended in pure alpine style (one push from bottom to top) for a reason: the mountain is very big and very dangerous, with prolonged periods of good weather unheard of. K2's boldest climbers pioneering the boldest routes, from Kukuczka to Beghin and Profit, have all employed the style our team is intending to use. Eight of K2's other routes were established by massive siege-style expeditions. If the East Buttress proves unclimbable, the team will shift its attention to the East Rib, a beautiful, unclimbed and technically challenging route rising above advanced base camp.

 

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Blog

TV show nominated for Emmy

March 18, 2008 

The Shared Summits K2 Expedition show has just been nominated for an Emmy! [ More

Live Presentation Dates Now Posted

Feb 19, 2008

Expedition Leader Chris Warner will be recapping the ascent, plus the very interesting story of the descent, during multiple live local presentations. [ More ]

NBC Sports TV Re-Broadcast

nbc_sports.jpg NBC will be re-airing the K2 show, as a stand alone hour of Jeep World of Adventure Sports on Sunday, Feb. 17th, at 2:30pm EST. [ More ]  

Shared Summits on NBC

nbc_sports.jpg Sunday, Dec. 16th at 2pm EST on NBC's Jeep World of Adventure Sports. [ More ]

Video Dispatch 51: Summit Day Part 2

Aug 28, 2007

After 9 weeks, 3 routes, 5 attempts, 15 ½ hours (after leaving Camp 4), Chris, Don and Bruce make the Summit ... [ More ]  

Video Dispatch 50: Summit Day Part 1

Aug 27, 2007

In part one of video from summit day, the Team pushes through the "bottleneck"... [ more ]

Video Dispatch 49: Camp 3.5 to 4

Aug 25, 2007

The climbers gain the "shoulder", arriving at Camp 4. [ More ]

Dispatch 36: PRess Release 

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