United Kingdom

K2 conquered in winter for first time - by team of Nepalese climbers

A team of climbers including a former British Special Forces soldier triumphed yesterday, becoming the first to conquer the world's second-highest mountain in winter.

Former Gurkha and Special Boat Service soldier Nirmal 'Nims' Purja and nine other Nepalese climbers reached the summit of K2 at midday UK time. 

They took the last few agonising steps on to the 28,251ft peak together while singing the Nepalese national anthem.

K2 is notorious for its perilous conditions and until yesterday was the only one of the world's 14 highest peaks never to have been conquered in winter, when temperatures can plummet to -80F (-62C) and wind speeds can top 100mph.

A team of climbers triumphed yesterday, becoming the first to conquer the world's second-highest mountain in winter. Former Gurkha and Special Boat Service soldier Nirmal 'Nims' Purja (third from left, bottom row) and nine other Nepalese climbers reached the summit of K2 at midday UK time

Mr Purja, 37, who lives in Eastleigh in Hampshire, and his fellow climbers stepped on to the summit as a team – ensuring they shared the extraordinary spot in history.

They had set out from a high camp at about 1am local time (8pm Friday in the UK) and took 16 hours to reach the summit. 

Shortly afterward, a post on Mr Purja's website declared: 'The impossible is made possible! K2 Winter – history made for mankind, history made for Nepal.

'A very special moment. The whole team waited 10m below the summit to form a group then stepped on to the summit together whilst singing our Nepalese National Anthem.'

The climbers took the last few agonising steps on to the 28,251ft peak together while singing the Nepalese national anthem. K2 straddles the China-Pakistan border in the Karakoram mountain range. (Above, Mr Purja, in an Instagram image taken on December 31)

Mr Purja, 37, who lives in Eastleigh in Hampshire, and his fellow climbers stepped on to the summit as a team – ensuring they shared the extraordinary spot in history. (He is seen above, on K2 in 2019)

However, the danger was not over as the ten climbers faced having to descend in the dark. All made it safely back to a camp at 23,500ft.

Their success is even more astonishing given a camp was destroyed last weekend in high winds and Mr Purja and other climbers slept in a shallow crevasse at more than 23,000ft one night because it was too windy to put up their tents.

A dramatic improvement in the weather allowed them to launch their assault on the summit. 

But news of their achievement was tempered by reports that accomplished Spanish climber Sergi Mingote had died after falling from a position lower down the mountain.

K2 is notorious for its perilous conditions and until yesterday was the only one of the world's 14 highest peaks never to have been conquered in winter, when temperatures can plummet to -80F (-62C) and wind speeds can top 100mph

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