North Face, K2

A rare view of the epic ridge on the Chinese side of K2—so remote and difficult that most climbers tackle the Karakoram Range peak from the Pakistani side. Here, members of the 2011 expedition ferry equipment to the base of the 28,251-foot summit.  ©Tommy Heinrich/National Geographic.

 

North Face, K2



©Ralf Dujmovits/National Geographic
Buffeted by stinging blasts of wind-driven snow, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner checks the ropes the team has spent weeks fixing along the entire route—9,000 feet of rope in all.

 

North Face, K2The images are from the April edition of National Geographic magazine for iPad, available on the App Store.

 

North Face, K2

©Ralf Dujmovits/National Geographic
With crampons, ice axes, and ropes they previously fixed, the climbers traverse west on the edge of the North Ridge. The route proved much steeper than they had anticipated.



 

North Face, K2

©Tommy Heinrich/National Geographic
Standing on the front points of her crampons, Kaltenbrunner climbs the steep rock-and-snow pitches up to Camp II. As part of extensive training before expeditions, she refines her balance by walking on a rope stretched between two apple trees.

 

North Face, K2

©Maxut Zhumayev/National Geographic
On this day the weather is windy but improving. The fixed ropes buried under new snow, Kaltenbrunner presses on up to Camp III between fellow climbers Pivtsov and Załuski. “Many times I felt as if I were being carried along,” she says. “It was mystical—I was getting power from somewhere. It has happened to me a few times before, but the feeling was never so strong as on K2.”



National Geographic magazine