K2 owes its name to Indian topographers who assigned the letter K, to indicate the Karakorum mountain range, followed by the number 2, the second mountain within the incredible Concordia Cirque and, contemporarily, the second mountain they studied.
The "history" of K2 begins more than a hundred years ago, with Colonel Francis Younghusband, the first European to climb the Old Muztagh Pass in 1887. The Englishman was taken aback by the nearly perfect cone, incredibly high!, as he wrote in his diary. Ever since this first viewing, K2 has fascinated generations of mountaineers who, as members of either large-scale expeditions or small teams, have attempted to scale this mountain. An extraordinary mountain, as beautiful as difficult, destined for expert and determined mountaineers only.
The first attempt to scale K2s steep walls was carried out in 1902: the anglo-austrian expedition led by Englishman Oscar Eckenstein reached 6600 meters via the north east crest. In 1909 the Italian Duca degli Abruzzi expedition touched 6600 meters along the south east crest, forging what was later to become the normal, classic ascent route: up the Abruzzi Spur. This was the line chosen by Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni in 1954 and which the Scoiattoli will now attempt in 2004.
The 1909 undertaking was attempted again after thirty-six years. In 1938, Paul Petzoldt, a member of the American expedition led by Charles Houston, reached 7925m. A year later another American expedition led by Fritz Wiessner, one of the strongest mountaineers of his day, and Sherpa Pasang Dawa, pushed the climb to a highpoint of 8370m, but the expedition ended in tragedy with the death of Dudley Wolfe and three Sherpa. In 1953 Charles Houston returned for his second and final expedition to K2: he reached 7800m via the Abruzzi Spur. The way forward had been discovered; it was now just a matter of time. And in 1953, that very same year, Ardito Desio and Riccardo Cassin completed their first exploration of K2 to observe the Abruzzi Spur.
Finally in 1954 the Italian expedition, led by Ardito Desio and under the patronage of the Italian Alpine Club, managed the great undertaking by ascending the hitherto unclimbed 8611m peak: on 31 July 1954 at 18.00 (local time) Lacedelli and Compagnoni stood on the virgin summit. Ever since then K2 has represented one of the most sought after and demanding mountains in the world, and the second ascent was carried out only 23 years later was. In 1977, two mountaineers from Japan and Pakistan reached the summit along the Italian route.
Since 2001 no other mountaineer has reached the summit of K2. The last Italians to successfully climb the mountain are Abele Blanc and Marco Camandona in 2000, and Hans Kammerlader in 2001.
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.