A Russian expedition has completed the 8,500-foot-high West Face of K2 after more than 10 weeks of effort. Andrew Mariev and Vadim Popovich reached the top of the 28,251-foot peak at around 1 p.m. on August 21. Several other climbers are in high camps and may make their own possible summit bids.
[UPDATE: On August 22, nine more Russian team members made their way to thesummit.]
The Russians fixed ropes up most of the unclimbed West Face, establishing seven camps on the wall, including two camps above 8,000 meters (26,247 feet). Although team members spent many nights in the “Death Zone” during numerous forays up and down the peak, they did not use supplemental oxygen.
The first crux of the direct route up the West Face was a rock wall more than 3,000 feet high, the Bastion, ending at over 25,000 feet. Higher up, storms, deep snow, and the rigors of climbing at high altitude forced back several attempts, including a push on August 10 that ended at a rock wall just 300 feet below the top.
The expedition, led by Viktor Kozlov, included veterans from other recent Russian mega-climbs, including the 2005 new route on the North Face of Mt. Everest (also led by Kozlov), a climb on which Mariev was one of the first three climbers to reach the summit. Two members of the 72-pitch Russian route on the North Face of Jannu (25,295 feet) in 2004 also were key climbers on K2.
The Russian route is the first completely independent new line on the world’s second-highest peak since 1986, when two new routes were completed on the South Face.
Meanwhile, although most teams have given up on K2’s normal routes on the south side of the peak, Kazakhs Serguey Samoilov and Denis Urubko are just arriving for their attempt at an alpine-style first ascent of K2’s North Face.
Date of Ascent: Summit reached August 21, 2007.