Welcome to my 2018 K2 expedition website. This expedition is sponsored by The Inspirational Development Group and Bremont Watch Company.
K2 is the second highest mountain in the world. It’s 8,611m tall and straddles the border between Pakistan and China in the Karakorum mountain range.
It’s moniker of the “Savage Mountain” is well deserved. Although it may not be quite as high as Everest, it’s considerably steeper, considerably more technical and much more remote. The weather is significantly more fickle and changeable than on Everest. On most camps on Everest you can fit 30-40 tents. On K2, in most camps you’d be pushed to get more than 5-10 tents, and some camps can only allow 2 or 3.
Over 9,000 people have climbed Everest, and 290 are known to have died on the mountain, representing a death to summit ratio of around 4%. K2 on the other hand has had 80 deaths and only around 364 summits, giving it a death to summit ratio which equates to 22%.
In 2009, when I was 25, I attempted K2 as part of a large international team. After nearly 2 months on the mountain, and multiple trips up and down the route setting camps, rigging ropes and acclimatising, we made our summit attempt. On our 3rd day, as we left camp 3 at 7300m bound for the final camp on the shoulder at 7900m we encountered extremely deep sugary snow on the steep route. My oxygen system was faulty and as a result I was carrying around 25kg of wright on my back without any of the benefit of the oxygen. It was utterly exhausting going, and I was out in front of the team laying the rope as I went. Eventually at 7700m, due to the snow conditions underfoot, and my exhaustion, I decided that it was better to give up my attempt at the summit and turn back. Although I had no doubt I could have continued going, a few steps at a time, I realised that I was getting close to the point of no return, and that if I didn’t beat a retreat whilst I still had some reserves left, I might not have the energy to get back to the safety of the lower camp. It is better to be a live donkey than a dead lion!
A few members of the team managed to continue, and reach the top camp, but the following day, a selection of the strongest climbers from all the expeditions on the mountain were beaten back from their summit attempt by extremely deep snow. In the end, no one managed to summit in 2009, and 1 person lost their life.
After a number of years away from Pakistan, focusing on developing my career as a management development consultant in London, as well as serving with the British Army in Afghanistan and starting a family, I returned to K2 for my second attempt in 2016.
It was exciting to return to Pakistan as part of the first British team to attempt the mountain since 2004, and our small team during the summer of 2016 was considered one of the strongest on the mountain. Climbing on the more common (in relative terms) Abruzzi Ridge, alongside a number of other large international teams, we were able to prepare the mountain up to over 7000m, including spending a night in C3 at 7300m. When it came to our summit attempt, we set off in good weather eager for a chance to get to C4 and hopefully make a concerted effort to the summit itself. Unfortunately, the snow conditions and the weather higher up on the mountain changed rapidly, and a huge avalanche ended up destroying the entire camp at 7300m, wiping it clean off the side of the mountain, along with all the equipment needed for a summit attempt, and any dreams of continuing.
Whilst we were incredibly disappointed, we were of course relieved and thankful that no one had been in C3 during the avalanche, as they would have certainly been killed (something which happened to a father son team in that exact location in 2013). The 2016 season ended with no summits, but fortunately neither any deaths or severe injuries either.
However, in the back on my mind has always been this nagging desire to return to K2, ‘the one that got away’, and give it another go.
2018 sees me join an small international team for my third attempt to summit K2. There is a certain amount of poetic hope about ‘third time lucky’, but as with all my expeditions, I will take it easy, try my best, and most importantly try and make the right decisions which will bring me and my fellow climbers home safely. I leave the UK on the 15th June 2018, and will be looking at spending around 2 months in Pakistan. I’m certainly incredibly excited about returning to Pakistan and the Baltoro Glacier – the most beautiful mountain region I’ve ever have the privilege to climb in.
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