14 eight-thousanders


8.611 m

“The mountain of mountains. On a personal level, the most difficult of the fourteen. It was the first time that I had feared for my life, and that’s something you never imagine will happen to you. A great mountain, a great expedition … a before and after in my life which led me to have doubts about going any further in the world of climbing.”

The wild mountain

Ranking: 2 Elevation: 8.611 m
First conquered: July 31, 1954. Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio. Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli became the first mountaineers to reach the summit of K2.

The second tallest giant on earth (8,611 m) is the most dangerous mountain on the planet. More than fifty people have died trying make the ascent, and its technical difficulty make it one of the most complicated challenges for any climber.

This was the only eight-thousander climbed by Pasaban in 2004, but it turned out to be a dramatic adventure. After a difficult 15-hour ascent, intense cold during the day of the summit, the complication of the final stretches and the time spent fixing ropes and opening a trail ahead of all the other expeditions also on the mountain drained every last drop of her energy.

The descent, for an exhausted Edurne with frozen feet, turned into a fight to the limit for survival. The adventure ended with a long and very painful recovery in hospital, with two toe phalanges having to be amputated.




A curse for women

The Chinese authorities refer to K2 as ‘Qogir’. This is derived from the name ‘Chogori’, “a synthetic name coined by Western explorers in the 20th century from two Balti words; chhogo (‘big’) and ri (‘mountain’).

The mountain was surveyed in 1856 by a European topographical team led by the Britain Henry Haversham Godwin-Austen. Thomas G. Montgomerie, a member of the team, called it “K2” as it’s the second peak in the Karakorum range. The other important mountains were originally named K1, K3, K4 and K5, but were later renamed Masherbrum, Broad peak, Gasherbrum II and Gasherbrum I respectively.

Legend has it that K2 is cursed for women. The first woman to reach the summit was Wanda Rutkiewicz from Poland in 1986. The following five women to reach the summit have died (3 of them during their descent and the other 2 ascending other eight-thousanders). Rutkiewicz also died on Kangchenjunga in 1992.

Summit climbed by Edurne Pasaban on the 26th of July 2004.