Climbing K2 Without Oxygen – Brave, Foolish or Both?

climbing k2 without oxygen

Climbing K2 is every alpinist’s dream – and nightmare. It isn’t just the height, although, at 8611 meters, it is the second-highest mountain in the world. It is the treacherous terrain and climate, low atmospheric oxygen and the ever-present threat of avalanches that make this mountain unique in the annals of mountain climbing.

Climber George Bell once described K2 as ‘a savage mountain that tries to kill you’ and gave it the nickname it is now infamous for – The Savage Mountain. It certainly seems to live up to the alias. The number of people who have successfully attained the summit is less than 400. For context, more people have been to space than have summited K2.

Eddie Bauer, the outdoor apparel brand for men and women, chronicles an attempt by Adrian Ballinger and Carla Perez to join that select number by summiting K2 – without any supplemental oxygen. The two climbers, along with their team, face various setbacks including ill health, inclement weather and even a porter strike.

Adrian and Carla are both experienced alpinists and mountain guides who have summited at least three of the peaks about 8000 meters including Everest. They have done this both with and without oxygen. Adrian is also a K2 veteran, although this is the first time either of them is attempting the oxygen-less climb on this particular mountain. Adrian very staunchly advises novices and first-time climbers going for one of the 8000 meter plus peaks against making K2 their first climb for reasons that become obvious when watching the video.