K2 | The Distant Dream

K2 (Image Source: Wikipedia)
Positioned at far-off corner of Karakorum, surrounded by lofty peaks and protected by hostile glaciers, Mount K2 was seldom seen by a human eye before 1850s. A member of Great Trigonometric Survey, Thomas G. Montgomerie sighted a group of high peaks from Harmukh (5142m) peak. 130 miles northward, these were massive peaks of Karakorum. He labeled these great mountains with prefix K, standing for Karakoram, followed by peak number. As per policy of the Great Trigonometric Survey local names were to be used for mountains wherever possible. Henceforth K1 became Masherbrum. K2 being too far and not visible from lower section of Baltro glacier that was occasionally visited by locals, didn’t have any indigenous label. Hence it remained K2.

In his account of the ascent of Gasherbrum IV, Italian climber Fosco Maraini reasoned that while the name of K2 owes its origin to chance; its clipped, impersonal nature is highly appropriate for so remote and challenging a mountain.
Martin Conway
Image Source: Wikipedia
“… just the bare bones of a name, all rock and ice and storm and abyss. It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars. It has the nakedness of the world before the first man – or of the cindered planet after the last.”
South side of K2 can be accessed by crisscrossing Baltro and Godwin-Austen glaciers. Montgomerie and his survey team never reached the base of K2. Later, 1st Baron Conway of Allington, Sir William Martin Conway led an exploration and mountaineering expedition to Baltro in 1892. He marched till Concordia, the junction of Baltro and Godwin-Austen glacier. First team to reach K2 base camp and launch an ascent push was 1902 Expedition of Oscar Eckenstein and Aleister Crowley.
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