K2 just had its busiest climbing season ever

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Hong Kong and Islamabad (CNN) – The world’s second highest mountain, K2 in Pakistan has welcomed a record number of climbers this year amid a surge following an epidemic of peak fever.

About 207 permits were issued to climb K2, says Sajid Hussain, a tourism official in Gilgit Baltistan, a region bordering China that is home to the Karakoram mountain range, including all five if Pakistan’s peaks over 8,000 meters (26,000 feet).

K2which reaches a height of 8,611 meters above sea level, is considered by many mountaineers to be more technically challenging than Everest.

But mild weather during July, usually the best time of year to summit, plus relative ease of travel compared to previous years and a stable political situation in the country are believed to have contributed to the record number of ascents.

Another factor was the pent-up demand that increased during the pandemic. With some of the world’s highest peaks off limits or difficult to reach due to Covid-related border closures, many climbers have spent the past two years saving money and preparing to return to the mountains.

While K2 is physically more difficult to climb, it is significantly cheaper than Everest.

Permits to climb the world’s highest mountain cost $11,000 per person, and would-be climbers also need to factor in travel costs to and from Nepal, clothing, equipment, food, and hired guides and Sherpas.

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Meanwhile, a K2 climbing permit — which often covers four other nearby “eight thousand” peaks — can be had for $7,200 for a group of seven.

The number of permits wasn’t the only record set this year.

Mirza Ali, founder of a Pakistan-based mountaineering company Karakoram ExpeditionsTells CNN that 20 women have summited K2 so far this summer.
Samina Baig is the first Pakistani woman to top that group Jane DrummondAmerican in pursuit of becoming the first woman to climb all seven second peaks, the second-highest mountains on each continent.

K2 was the final mountain that Drummond needed to climb to set his historic record.

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