K2 2022 Summer Coverage: A Record Year?

Tight space at Camp 1 on K2

The 2022 Karakorum climbing season has begun! Multiple teams have arrived in Pakistan, and many are already trekking the Baltoro Glacier to their respective Base Camps. Of the fourteen 8000-meter peaks, Pakistan is home to five: K2, Nanga Parbat, Broad Peak, and Gasherbrum I & II. Without a doubt, some of these are the most difficult 8000ers as are plus countless 6000 and 7000-meter mountains. Those who summited Everest will be shocked when they attempt K2. They are entirely different experiences.

The number of climbers, close to 700, in Pakistan this summer is staggering compared to previous years. I’m concerned about their safety, given the objective dangers presented on the 8000-meter peaks, crowds kicking rocks on other climbers, and the lack of space to establish high camps. The operators need to coordinate movement like they never have to avoid massive confusion, congestion, delays, and potential tragedies.

With that said, I’m delighted to see so much work for the Pakistani operators, High Altitude Workers (aka Pakistani mountain support climbers), porters, and the associated tourism industry. However, it must be noted that the Nepal operators are swamping the climbing in Pakistan and bringing in scores of Sherpas to support their clients along with copious amounts of supplemental oxygen at high flow rates beginning at camps lower than in previous years. It’s similar to what we saw in Nepal, with a record 1.6 Sherpa support for each member across the 8000ers. Perhaps Pakistan will develop enough support that they can be the dominant force in their own mountains.

Record Climbing Year in Pakistan?

After two years of COVID restrictions, the pent-up demand is revealing itself in force across the 6,000 to 8,000-meter peaks. Karrar Haidri, Secretary of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, and Managing Director at Saltoro Summits Treks & Tours Pakistan told me that there are 57 expeditions across 23 peaks this summer with a combined total of 672 permits issued:

  1. K2: 8611m
  2. Nanga Parbat: 8126m
  3. Gasherbrum I: 8068m
  4. Board Peak: 8047m
  5. Gasherbrum II: 8035m
  6. Masherbrum Peak: 7820m
  7. Saltoro Kangri: 7700m
  8. Shispare Peak: 7611m
  9. Muchu Chhish: 7453m
  10. Sia Kangri: 7400m
  11. Diran peak: 7260m
  12. Lupghar Sar: 7200m
  13. Kuron Kuh: 7164m
  14. Urdok Kangri:7082
  15. Spantik Peak: 7027m
  16. Karun kuh: 6977m
  17. K7: 6943m
  18. K7: 6934m
  19. Pumari Chhish: 6850m
  20. Dut Sar Peak: 6800m
  21. Tahu Rutum: 6652m
  22. Virjerab SarL: 6601m
  23. Ghamubar zom: 6518m

The Pakistani Operators running climbs or providing logistics for foreign operators this season includes:

As for permits, including members and support climbers (Sherpas and HAWs), the largest number is for the combination of K2 and Broad Peak with a stunning 348 followed by G I & II have a combined total of 101 and Nanga Parbat at 82.

Keep in mind that it has become common for operators to sell the combo of Broad Peak and K2, similar to Everest and Lhotse, but few accomplish this Pakistani double as it requires actually climbing both peaks from their respective base camps, unlike the Everest/Lhotse link.

The Foreign Operators in Pakistan with permits for both members and support, often are 2:1 ratios including:

Of note German alpinist, Jost Kobach will be alone on the 7453-meter Muchu Chhish Peak. Also. Kristin Harila, is after all five 8000ers in Pakistan after bagging six of Nepal’s eight in April and May. She is after all 14 in record time. If she gets the Pakistan five, she will need to get Cho Oyu, from the Nepal side, then permission from her Chinese for Shishapangma. It remains unclear when she got Manaslu during this effort. She is supported by 8K Expeditions with Sherpas, Dawa Wongchu Sherpa, and Pasdawa Sherpa who will share in the record if set.

K2 Abruzzi Route Map
K2 Abruzzi Route Map

As for the largest Pakistani Operators, Karakorum Expeditions led by Mirza Ali’s has 18 clients on K2 and Broad Peak.

And the Other 8000ers

While K2 gets a disproportionate amount of attention, the other four deserve an equal amount of attention.

Gasherbrum I/II

At 26,362’/8035m. GII is often considered the most attainable of the Karakoram’s 8000ers. There have been about 360 summits of GI and 950 of GII. 32-year-old Pakistani Sirbaz Kahn is on a mission. He wants all fourteen of the 8000ers and has Annapurna and Everest plus six others. Now he will go for G I and G II.

Nanga Parbat

NP is often considered one of the most difficult 800ers with steep rocky faces and plenty of avalanche and rockfall dangers. There are an amazing 82 climbers there this year.

Broad Peak

BP is often considered a warm-up for K2 but that grossly understates the difficulty of this 26,414’/8051m peak. About 445 people have summited Broad.  Every season people talk about summiting both but it is rarely accomplished as I described in this post last.

Camp 2 on Broad Peak in 2006
Camp 2 on Broad Peak in 2006 © Photo by Alan Arnette. All rights reserved

I’ll be reporting on progress this season as I did for the Nepal 8000ers season.

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2 thoughts on “K2 2022 Summer Coverage: A Record Year?

  1. Maybe some teams will go for K2 cesen route? Because Abruzzi C1 and C2 can’t store that many tents.

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