Often considered to be one of the most dangerous mountains in the world due to its complex route and lack of travel, K2 has been conquered once again by a team of Adrian Ballinger, Carla Perez, Nirmal Purja, Esteban ‘Topo’ Mena, Palden Nagye, and Pemba Gelje Sherpa. Ballinger and Perez completed the ascent without the help of supplemental oxygen.
This is a monumental feat in that on K2, most of the technical climbing and the crux section are above 8000 meters, where extreme oxygen deprivation is taking place. The famously difficult section, “The Bottleneck” is a narrow colouir about 400 metres from the summit is overhung by seracs (large chunks of ice) that could fall at any moment, making the margin for error on this section extremely small. Most teams are lucky to get a weather window that allows them to get to this point, but to have the right conditions to push through “The Bottleneck”, and not needing the help of oxygen? Well, that’s just other-worldly.
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Ballinger, a highly experienced alpinist known for his lightning ascents (he has already summited Everest without oxygen this year), actually uses a doctor on his climbs to help him in his decision making and judge his mental clarity. This doctor once famously convinced him to turn around just 500 metres from the summit of Everest, so it is clear there is a level of trust between the two.
We can’t wait to see the photos and stories that come from this amazing ascent—and we’ll be sure to keep you tuned in at all times. —ML