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Women on top of K2 summit

Updated on December 19, 2010

K2 has many names. For some Chogori, for others Lambha Pahar or Mount Godwin-Austen. It's a mysterious, distant, difficult and even cruel mountain summit. For about 100 reaching attempts, only 8 women managed to do it. Why only so few? Because in common opinion "women bring bad luck in the mountains, because women cannot climb, because they are spoiled and want to be relieved by men, because they are ruthless and pretentious". The truth is quite different - the K2 mountain summit is pretty damn hard to reach, requires enormous technical skills and vast strength. Women acclimatize easier to extreme conditions and even that is not enough because there is always unfavourable weather on K2.

Each climber is aware of the power of the K2 mountain, whose peak has not yet got reached in the winter. Its wonderful shape arouses awe and fear while at the same time attracts the attention of many. But not many have the courage to face it. K2 claimed many victims. Most tragic season had place in 1986, when 13 climbers died, including 3 women: Dobrosława Miodowicz-Wolf, Julie Tullis and Liliane Barrard. In 2008 the separation of a block of ice, which created an avalanche in "Bottleneck" couloir, killed 11 mountaineers returning from the summit. There were no women among them.

K2 is not only a tragedy and unsuccessful expeditions. In the most tragic year 1986 a Pole Wanda Rutkiewicz has become the first woman who reached the mountain's summit. Moments after her Liliane Barrard, accompanied by her husband, reached the summit too. The trio climbed without supplementary oxygen, they managed to survive the night in a camp near the summit, but on the way down Liliane and her husband died. The third woman, who managed to reach the summit of K2 is Julie Tullis, but she shared the fate of Liliane. The run of misfortune has been stopped by Chantal Mauduit, who in 1992 reached the summit and returned safely to the base. Unfortunately, in 1995 after a successful entry on K2 Alison Hargreaves died during descending. She was the fifth woman, who managed to admire the panorama from the top of K2 mountain. In 2004, after a long break, the summit was reached by the Spanish Edurne Pasaban, outstanding Himalayan, who has been the second woman who got all the peaks of the Karakoram (the chain of mountains K2 is part of).

Italian mountaineer Nives Meroi pretends to conquering the Crown of the Himalayas. In 2006, as the first Italian woman, she reached the top of K2. Her rival is Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, who has to reach K2 peak only. In 2007 the K2 peak was reached by Eun-Sun Oh, a Korean mountaineer who reached all the peaks of Karakoram and, as the first in history, conquered the Crown of the Earth, although her entry on K2 mountain isn't officially confirmed. There are complains about the way she reaches the peaks - she uses professional support teams and oxygen cylinders. Nevertheless her achievements are impressive - in 2008 and in 2009 she reached four mountain peaks.


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      Cynthia Andersen 

      7 years ago

      I believe Cecile Skogg also reached the summit and made it down in 2008, the year the 11 climbers, including her husband, died.


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