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High Altitude Medicine
Surviving
Dangers

One of the factors that makes K2 so challenging is the sustained technical difficulty. It is sustained often described as a cone of ice and limestone, and has slopes of 45 degree angles or more. Climbers typically fix up to 2,500 meters of rope on the south side routes, and up to 5,000 meters of rope on the north ridge route. Because high-altitude porters are rarely employed, all of the work of carrying and setting the ropes and high camps must be done by the climbers themselves.

On Everest, there are typically 2 four or five day weather "windows" during the spring climbing season. Although K2 is almost impossible to climb without being caught in life-threatening weather, the best months to climb are June, July and August. The sudden storms are caused in part because the peak is so much higher than the mountains around it -- it juts up into the upper layers of the atmosphere and like a rock in a river can create eddies in the jet stream, with good weather on one side of the mountain, and life-threatening conditions on the other.

There are fourteen "8,000ers" – fourteen mountains above 8,000 meters high that of course represent the 14 highest points on planet Earth.

Mr. Eguskitza points out, "If we consider the number of deaths coming down from the summit, K2 is by far the most dangerous, about 3 times more so than Annapurna. The problem on K2 is that if you reach the top, your chances of returning are significantly reduced." K2 fatality statistics

Know how to survive

In order to survive K2 you will need luck and skill. You´ll have to know your medicals, the altitude aids and altitude problems.

Read up well, start with the MountEverest.net sections and then practice. There will be limited possibilities for rescue or medical attention on K2.

You´ll have to know how to stitch somebody up, general first aid and all in all how to be entirely self reliable in many life threatening areas in order to save yourself, your porters or fellow climbers. Do your homework, your life might depend on it.

Oxygen

You don’t need the Everest face mask on K2. The Khumbu cough doesn’t exist here. You might however choose to bring oxygen. Although K2 is listed as a "no-oz" mountain, many skilled climbers have summited it using oxygen. Park from Korea is bringing it, Rob Hall used it, if you do too you’ll be in great company.

Get the right bottles from Poisk, along with unused oxygen gear. K2 is only slightly lower than Everest, the climb is hard and the barometric pressure is said to be lower then that of Everest at the base of the mountain. If you feel uncertain about your no-oz abilities, don’t hesitate to bring it and use it.