It's More Dangerous Than Everest—and Getting Congested

'Conga line' of climbers seen near K2 summit
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2022 2:13 PM CDT

(Newser) – The world's second-highest mountain is a more difficult and dangerous climb than Mount Everest, but this year's climbing season has seen an unprecedented number of people attempt to conquer K2. Before July 21, only 302 people had ever reached the summit. That number jumped by more than 140 in the following days, including more than 100 on July 22 alone, Outside reports. Nepali mountaineer Mingma Gyalge shared a video of dozens of climbers waiting in a "conga line" on a section of ice called the Bottleneck. He said a delay in previous days had led to a "traffic jam" near the summit of the mountain, which sits on the Pakistan-China border.

Before this year, the record number of K2 summits in a single year was 62, set in 2018. This year's total is expected to be more than 175. Outside sees the surge as being "driven by a generation of paying clients that seek a greater challenge than Mount Everest, and a coterie of expedition operators who specialize in getting climbers to the top—regardless of the dangers found along the way." British mountaineer Adriana Brownlee says K2 is "a bloody hard mountain and shouldn’t be seen as a tourist attraction," ITV reports. She says climate change has made the region's mountains very dry this year, with "so much rockfall that you were pretty much playing Russian roulette with rocks."

K2 is known as the "savage mountain" and before the record number of climbers in late July, which added more than 30% to the total number of people who had made it to the summit, there was around one death for every four successful ascents. So far this year, the mountain has claimed at least three lives, the Guardian reports. The bodies of Australian climber Matthew Eakin and Canadian climber Richard Cartie were found last week, days after they went missing during their descent. Afghan climber Ali Akbar Sakhi reportedly died from a heart attack during his descent last week. (Read more mountain climbing stories.)

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