K2 | First Attempt | 1902 Expedition

From Crowley's book; Image: Listverse
First expedition to reach at the foot of K2 was led by Oscar Eckenstein and Aleister Crowley in 1902. Oscar Eckenstein was a renowned climber, inventor of the modern crampon and developer of shorter ice axe. Aleister Crowley was a crazy soul; an occultist with queer views on subjects of magic and faith. Eckenstein was a member of Martin Conway’s 1892 expedition but withdrew before reaching Karakoram due to personality conflicts. In early 1900s, Eckenstein and Crowley climbed together in Mexico and went along well. It was then that former put forward the proposition of climbing K2 and later agreed. Guy Knowles, H. Pfaiml, V. Wessely and Jules Jacot Guillarmod were other team members.

Expedition had a shabby start as Eckenstein was arrested and accused being a spy, allegedly, upon old-rival Martin Conway’s interference. The spooky team of climbers reached Askole and hired more than 200 porters to march into Baltro. It’s said that Crowley took along him a vast collection of poetry books.

Image Source: Wikipedia
Expedition reached at the base of mountain, establishing Camp-10 at 18,700 feet to initiate the assault on majestic K2. They were welcomed by the bad weather; hurricane winds and deep snow. Bad weather lasted for ten days but worst were the rising conflicts between team members. Austrian, Americans and British didn’t go along well. Austrians wanted to climb together and they did, reaching around Camp 11 on North-East ridge. Crowley thought this route wasn’t climbable and recommended Sourth-East ridge (now known as Abruzzi ridge). Another storm struck, Crowley went snow blind for a short duration, recovered and climbed above camp 11, reaching highest point of 21500ft.

There were few attempts but without success. Team suffered, partially due to weather but mainly because of internal fights. After spending 68 days on glacier, they reached back Askole on fourteenth of August.
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