by Kuba Bogdanski 16/03/2016
Gasherbrum II: The 8000ers / eight-thousanders are the only mountains with a death zone, where the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere is insufficient to sustain human life, therefore called the death zone. About 30% of the oxygen you find at sea level. They are all are located in the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges in China, India, Nepal and Pakistan and are the only mountains in the world over 8000 meters.
Gasherbrum II who is also known as K4, is the 13th highest mountain in the world at 8035 metres and mountain nr 2 in our mountain series about the 8000ers or eight-thousanders. Her neighbours are the impressive Broad Peak, Gasherbrum I and the massive giant K2 with all in a touching distance away. Gasherbrum II is considered as a good training mountain for Mount Everest and is climbed with 3 camps up the mountain. We plan will make an attempt on Gasherbrum II in 2021.
Each week we will present each 8000ers, and the reason behind this is our fascination climbing all the mountains on this list, something that has only been accomplished by 34 legendary mountaineers to date. 3 Polish and 0 Norwegians have completed this achievement.
Gasherbrum II – 13th highest mountain in the world
Elevation: 8,035 meters (26,362ft)
Location: China / Pakistan / Karakoram
First summer ascent: July 7, 1956, by Austrians Fritz Moravec, Josef Larch and Hans Willenpart
First winter ascent: February 2, 2011, by Cory Richards, Denis Urubko, and Simone Moro
Duration: 47 days
Gasherbrum II is situated at the head of the Pakistan’s Baltoro glacier with neighbouring giants such as K2, Gasherbrum 1, and Broad Peak. The climbing of this mountain is not especially steep and hard but the remoteness of the mountain makes this an especially rewarding experience you would never forget.
This is a big and long mountain expedition, and is regarded slightly harder than Cho Oyu, it is the perfect training peak for Mount Everest. Gasherbrum II is considered by many the safest and “easiest” of the Karakoram 8000 meters peaks. It is the perfect choice for an experienced climber who wants to attempt their first 8000 meter peak.
Gasherbrum II is part of the greater Gasherbrum group of 5 peaks, 2 of which reach over 8000 meters. The walk to Gasherbrum II base camp along the Baltoro glacier has been described as one of the best treks in the world. This long approach by foot has the added advantage of providing excellent acclimatisation.
The first ascent of the mountain came on the 7th of July in 1956 by Austrians Fritz Moravec, Josef Larch and Hans Willenpart by the Southwest Ridge. The Southwest Ridge is the route with the most likelihood for summit success on Gasherbrum II.
You can find a list of Ascents, deaths and other statistics of the 8000ers here.
1934: Exploring Gasherbrum I and II
In the year 1934 Günter Dyhrenfurth and his International Expedition explored Gasherbrum I and II.
1956: The first ascent
1975: Four expeditions climbed Gasherbrum II
In 1975 four expeditions successfully climbed Gasherbrum II.
1982: Reinhold Messner on the Southwest Ridge
1986: Speed Summit
In 1986 it was successfully ascended by a Slovene expedition in only 32 hours from the base to the peak.
1996: Gasherbrum I and II
In 1996 Jean-Christophe Lafaille climbed Gasherbrum I and II in four days without stopping at Base Camp.
2007: Gasherbrum II in 2007 in alpine style
2011: Gasherbrum II Winter Ascent
The Southwest Ridge Route: You should take sufficient time to rest and acclimatize in base camp before you start a conservative climb to the higher camps. The location of Camp 1 is normally at 5950 meters. The route from Base Camp to Camp 1 will include rock scrambles on moraine and sections of glacier travel of varying steepness through an icefall followed by a long low angle climb over glacial terrain using rope travel.
Moving from Camp 1 to Camp 2 will include longer sections of steep snow and ice, with some short vertical ice steps. The route is normally fixed with rope in any exposed or vertical sections in order to maximize safety. Camp 2 is located at 6450 meters and most climbers can climb their first time to Camp 2 in about 6 hours.
A climb of roughly 5-7 hours takes you to Camp 3 at 7050 meters. The route is moderately steep and weaves in and out of snow and ice terrain up a ridge line out to a sloping camp. Here you should rest, eat, drink, and prepare for the summit bid. The climb to the summit, while not technical, is quite demanding given the high altitude.
Remember a permit is required, so is an Military or Tourism Ministry approved Liaison Officer.
Gasherbrum II Camps:
This is how the camps are normally placed up on the mountain.
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Normal Route Typical Itinerary:
This is an example of an itinerary would be on Gasherbrum II. Acclimatization, health and the performance of the expedition team may impact the actual schedule. High altitude mountaineering can change from day to day during an expedition.
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Skardu is the starting off point for all major expeditions and treks into the Baltoro region, here you can make last minute arrangements.
From Skardu it is a 6 hour drive through one of the most enchanting valley routes in Baltistan. The drive has variously been described as everything from “pretty” to “suicidal“.
When you are at Askole the last village of any description, then you have an 85 km trek to Concordia along the Baltoro Glacier and past some of the most extraordinary and visually stunning alpine architecture on the planet.
Along the way you will pass the Great Trango Towers, Masherbum, Paiju, Mustagh Tower, and Mitre Peak.
This list is a guide only. There is a huge number of brands, options and version of all the gear. This is the recommendations and suggestions from mtxplore from our own experience on the mountains. We would love to hear your feedback, so please do contact us if you have any feedback. We love to talk about gear hour after hour.
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It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.