A Polish expedition to K2, the world’s second-highest peak in the Karakoram mountain range of the Himalayas, leaves Warsaw on Friday. The aim of the 13-strong team of climbers is the first-ever winter ascent, without oxygen support, of the world’s second-highest mountain, its summit at an altitude of 8,611 metres on the Chinese-Pakistani border.
The team is led by Krzysztof Wielicki, a 67-year-old climber who has scaled all 14 of the world’s peaks over 8,000 metres.
Wielicki has told Poland’s PAP news agency that the expedition is part of a wide-ranging Polish programme of winter ascents of the world’s highest peaks.
“For me it is not important who reaches the summit,” he said. “It is important to score a success for Poland as a team and return safely home.”
The team includes Adam Bielecki, who reached the summit of K2 in the summer of 2012.
K2 is regarded as much more difficult and dangerous to climb than Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain. This is chiefly due to the area’s harsh weather conditions, with strong winds and temperatures falling to 45 degrees below freezing.
The summit of K2 has been reached by 306 climbers, but never in winter. At least 80 people have died while attempting to conquer the peak.
The first woman to climb K2 was Poland’s Wanda Rutkiewicz, in June 1986.