9 January 1953, professor Ardito Desio applies to the Pakistan government for permission to make a preliminary journey in the same year "in an area near Baltoro", and a mountaineering-scientific expedition in 1954 to K2. The request follows a previous application to the same government sent to the Karachi (the capital of Pakistan at the time) government offices in 1952.
24 April 1953, at the General Assembly of the CAI in Parma, Carlo Chersi, the president of the Academic Alpine Club, also responsible for the Commission that plans and organises non-European initiatives, asks Desio if he is prepared to lead an expedition to K2. On the whole the professor agrees.
18 August 1953, Ardito Desio leaves with Riccardo Cassin to explore Karakorum. Permission was granted a month before, and the expedition is financed by the CNR. In Rawalpindi the two explorers meet Charles Houston and his companions, who have just returned from an attempt to climb K2.
25 September 1953, Desio and Cassin reach the Concordia cirque and finally see K2. On the following days, owing to the bad weather, they have to limit their reconnaissance plans and go only to the first camp of the American expedition. They return to Italy on 18 October and Desio is told permission has arrived to climb K2 in 1954.
7 November 1953, the Central Council of the CAI nominates an executive commission for K2. It is agreed the expedition will be organised by the Alpine Club and by the National Research Council and the head of the Pakistan event will be Ardito Desio, with the collaboration of Riccardo Cassin "as leader of the mountaineering group".
12 November 1953, Desio makes it clear the Central Commission of CAI should not appoint anyone else besides the head of the expedition. Cassin resigns his alpine leadership.
15 December 1953, Desio examines the funds. The total estimate of the expenses, including the scientific part, is approximately 100 million It. lire. The alpinists proposed for the expedition are called for the first medical examination. Desio informs the Commission of the results of this examination on 29 December. Among the first to be excluded is, surprisingly, Cassin.
18-27 January and 16-26 February 1954, training and selection camps held on the Rosa Plateau and Mount Rosa.
At the end of the selection tests, the mountaineering team is composed of. Erich Abram, born in 1922; Ugo Angelino, born in 1923; Waiter Bonatti, born in 1930;AchilleCompagnoni, 1914; Cirillo Floreanini, 1924; Pino Gallotti, 1918; Lino Lacedelli, 1925; Guido Pagani, alpinist and doctor, 1917; Mario Pochoz, 1918; Gino Soldą, 1907; Sergio Viotto, 1928. Head of expedition: Ardito Desio, born in Palmanova, Friuli in 1897.
The group of scientists include: captain Francesco Lombardi, topographer of 1GM; Antonio Marussi, director of the Geophysics Institute of Trieste University; Paolo Graziosi, professor of Palaeontology of Trieste University; Bruno Zanettin, petrographer, professor of the Geology Institute of Padua University; Mario Fantin, filmmaker.
9 January 1954, Cassin resigns from the Commission.
March 1954, the government's contribution, that has to come through the CNR, seems destined to be delayed several months. The Central Council of the CAI, assumes all moral and financial responsibility for the expedition and promises to intervene in the transitory financial operations". The Alpine Club will take out a loan of 25 million It. lire guaranteed by 23 councillors or members. This loan will be discharged when the state contribution arrives.
30 March 1954, the boxes of supplies and equipment (a total 13 tons) are loaded onto the motor vessel Asia in Genoa. The mountaineers and scientists leave at different times. They will meet between Rawalpindi and Skardu at the end of April.
30 April, Ardito Desio, Erich Abram and the cameramen Mario Fantini and Tom Hormann carry out a reconnaissance flight around K2 on board a DC3 plane.
The first group of porters set off on foot from Skardu. Between 30 April and 2 May as many as 602 porters depart.
30 April-29 May, approach march to base camp.
25 May, Bonatti, Gallotti, Lacedelli and Puchoz leave to scout the area of the first two high camps of the Americans. Four days later, Compagnoni and Rey establish camp III at 6,200 metres.
30 May, 63 porters leave with provisions for camp I, at 5,400 metres. The next day the whole team of mountaineers meet at base camp. All the baggage has arrived at last.
14 June, Compagnoni and Rey reach the site of Camp IV, at 6,450 metres, below the Bill House Chimney. The camp is set up and stocked with supplies two days later.
21 June, during a raging snowstorm Mario Puchoz contracts pulmonary oedema and dies at one o'clock in the morning at camp II (5,600 m). His companions only manage to take his body down to the valley on the 26,h, when the weather improves, and bury him in the place where the "Gilkey Memorial" stands to day.
30 June, Rey and Compagnoni climb the Bill House Chimney and reach the site of campV, at 6,650 metres. Compagnoni, Abram and Gallotti climb to pitch a tent there on 14 July.
16 July, Abram and Gallotti prepare the route to the place where camp VI will be established in the following days at 7,300 metres. During the next few days the rope-teams Compagnoni-Rey and Lacedelli-Bonatti prepare the route to the 'Shoulder' of K2.They reach the place where camp VII will be set up, at 7,500 metres. In the following days camp VI is moved 100 metres uphill for safety reasons.
25 July, Gallotti, Bonatti and Abram set up camp VI.
28 July, Lacedelli, Compagnoni, Abram, Gallotti and Rey depart to establish camp VIII at 7,700 metres.
29 July, Bonatti and Gallotti climb to camp VIII with two oxygen masks, one tent and a supply of provisions. Abram and Rey, who are carrying the frames and oxygen bottles, are unable to keep up with them, Abram returns to camp VII and Rey goes to base camp. Lacedelli and Compagnoni attempt to climb to the site of camp IX, but return to camp VIII exhausted after leaving the equipment at the highest point reached so far. In the evening it is decided that Bonatti and Gallotti will go down to camp VII the next day and get the oxygen bottles, while Compagnoni and Lacedelli set up camp IX 100 metres lower than planned to favour the supply of provisions.
30 July, Lacedelli and Compagnoni climb up to recover the sacks and overcome the wall of ice above camp VIII. After a traverse to the left, they establish camp IX over eight thousand metres high, in a position out of sight compared with the line of the climb. Gallotti and Bonatti descend to camp VII and then climb up again with Abram and the Hunza carriers Mahdi and lsakhan. Isakhan stays in camp VIII while Bonatti, Abram and Mahdi continue the ascent carrying the bottles needed for the last leg to the summit. In the late afternoon Abram gives up and returns to camp VIII. In the evening Bonatti and Mahdi are unable to find Lacedelli and Compagnoni's tent, which is not in the place decided the evening before and so they are forced to spend the night in a makeshift bivouac on a steep slope, without any shelter, at 8,100 metres.
31 July, after a terrible night, Bonatti and Mahdi manage to return to camp VIII; the Hunza's feet and hands are seriously frostbitten. Lacedelli and Compagnoni descend to get the oxygen bottles and then climb to the summit. They reach the top of K2, at 8,611 metres, at 6.00pm. They arrive back at camp VIII at 11.00 pm.
1-3 August, all the mountaineers return to base camp.
11-23 August, the return trek to Skardu. Ardito Desio stays in Pakistan to complete the expedition's scientific programme.
3 September, Compagnoni, Rey, Pagani and Fantin return to Rome by air.
10 September, the other mountaineers board ship for Italy.
A weak ridge is situated over Afghanistan. It may at times affect the K2-area during the first days giving only risk of occasional showers. Then it seems to become more unsettled with frequent showers due to lows over Kashmir and Tibet.