K2, north face attempt, north ridge ascent. After abandoning their dreams of an alpine-style new route on the north face of K2 because of severe weather and poor climbing conditions, Serguey Samoilov and Denis Urubko succeeded on the rarely climbed north ridge on October 2. The Kazakh climbers’ rapid ascent, in difficult conditions and with no supplementary oxygen, was the latest in the year that K2 has ever been climbed.
After arriving at base camp in late August, Samoilov and Urubko acclimatized on K2’s north ridge, reaching 8,300m on September 16. Back in base camp, they rested for their attempt on a direct route up a shallow spur on the north face, left of the north ridge route. But persistent poor weather loaded the face with snow, creating dangerous avalanche conditions.
The two climbers approached the face on September 27, but a blizzard that night scrubbed any hope of an attempt on the new route. Instead, they traversed to the north ridge, reaching Camp 2 on that route on September 29 in poor weather. They next day was clear, though windy and cold, and they continued to Camp 3, and on October 1, despite a new storm, they climbed to Camp 4. On October 2 they reached the summit and returned to high camp.
The north ridge of K2, first climbed by a large Japanese expedition in 1982, has seen only a handful of repeats. Until now, the latest autumn ascent of K2 was a 1978 American team's summits on September 6 and 7, via the northeast ridge.
Dougald MacDonald, adapted from www. climbing. com