ISLAMABAD (AP) — A team of Nepalese climbers on Saturday made history by scaling the world’s second highest peak — Pakistan’s K2 — in the winter season, a local Alpine Club official said.
The secretary of Pakistan’s Alpine Club, Karrar Haideri, said 10 Nepali Sherpas reached the summit around 5 p.m.
At 8,611 meters (28,251 feet), K2 is the most prominent peak on the Pakistani side of the Himalayan range, and the world’s second tallest after Mount Everest. Winter winds on K2 can blow at more than 200 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour) and temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit).
“This was never done by anyone before in winter,” said Haideri.
He added that four international climbing teams had arrived about a month ago to try scaling K2 — the last peak above 8,000 meters in the world to not be climbed in the winter. Of these dozens of climbers, the group of 10 Nepalis have so far been the only successful team, said Haideri.
Since the maiden attempt back in 1988, just a handful of winter expeditions have been attempted on the storied 8,611-meter peak in the Karakoram range along the Chinese border that leads into the Himalayas.
Haideri said no mountaineers had reached higher than 7,750 meters, until Saturday when fair weather conditions allowed the climbers to push ahead.
According to the Alpine Club, an unprecedented number of climbers, in four teams totaling some 48 members, converged on the mountain this winter, more than all the previous winter expeditions put together.
Haideri said that the 10 Nepalese climbers, who called themselves Sherpas, had earlier been spread across the different teams, but formed a new group in order to claim the feat in Nepal’s name.