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K2 avalanche, K2 deaths
Pakistan Toursim Office, HO/AP
The world's second tallest mountain: K-2, Pakistan

Inexperience and Bad Luck Blamed for K2’s Deadliest Day

August 05, 2008 09:47 AM
by Christopher Coats
Spotlighting the deadly risks climbers face at high altitude, an avalanche on the world’s second-tallest mountain took the lives of 11 climbers last week. It was the deadliest single event in K2’s history.

30-Second Summary

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While undoubtedly tragic, deaths on K2 like those last week are hardly rare for the perilous 8,150-meter peak.

First ascended by Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni in 1954, K2 has since earned a worthy reputation as one of the world’s deadliest challenges, with a fatality rate lurking around 25 percent.

As with previous failed attempts, critics, including Fredrik Straeng, a survivor of last week’s disaster, have pointed to a clear lack of experience on the part of new climbers as a cause of the mishap. “The accident could have been prevented. These mountains lure way too inexperienced and naive people,” Straeng said.

Due in part to its remote location along a stretch of border between China and Pakistani Kashmir, K2 has largely escaped the large number of guide-led beginners who have attempted to climb nearby Everest.

However, a long history of death and failure attest to the peak’s demand for skill and experience. There have been 10 times more attempts made to climb Everest as K2, but one-third the fatalities. Last year saw upward of 200 climbers reach the peak of Everest, whereas entire years have passed on K2 without a single successful assent.

Headline Links: Inexperience and bad luck

Background: A legacy of danger

Reactions: Experience could have helped

Opinion & Analysis: Myriad reasons

Reference: K2

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