Vanessa O’Brien, the fastest woman to climb the highest peak on every continent and the first American and British woman to climb the second-highest mountain in the world, explains why K2 is a more difficult climb than Mt. Everest. Following is a transcript of the video.
So when comparing Everest versus K2, they are very, very different.
First, you have two different countries. You have Nepal versus Pakistan so I’d say technically it’s more challenging to get to Pakistan to get the visas, the logistics.
You’ve got different tracks in, so the track into Pakistan to get to K2 base camp involves traveling over a glacier. A glacier is harder to climb, you’ve got mixed rock, which makes twisting an ankle very, very easy.
When you’re going up to Everest Base Camp, you’re just on a dirt trail so it’s very, very easy.
Also, when you’re traveling on K2, you’re packing your whole expedition and you’re building tents along the way, when you’re traveling to Everest Base Camp, you’re staying at teahouses so you don’t have to travel in tents.
When you’re on the actual climb, K2 is shaped like a triangle so it’s demanding 110% day one, whereas Everest, there’s twists and turns, so it’s not always climbing steep.
Weather is much more unpredictable on K2 and I would say the technical climbing on K2 is hard so Everest has the Hillary step, which everyone’s heard about, that’s one obstacle. But for the most part it’s pretty — the paths are well laid-out because a lot of people climb Everest every year where K2, there is very few expeditions that climb because there’s such an unpredictability of summits.
And it’s more technical so, it’s more of a mixed rock, ice, and alpine climb so you have places like House’s Chimney and Black Pyramid, which are hard rock climbs in the middle of an alpine climb. So very, very different.
If I look statistically, there’s a 40% chance of no summits in any one year so this is a really tough mountain. There’s less than 400 summits overall compared to Everest’s 7500 summits so just remarkably how much harder K2 is every season that presents itself.