K2 – A South African First!

Photo by K2 Summit Team

By John Black

What started off as a fascination 25 years ago, turned into a goal about 10 years ago and became a reality when we left home on June 13 2022, destined for Islamabad, then Skardu, on to Askole, and finally via a 100 kilometre trek to K2 Basecamp. It had taken the climbing team of John Black, Warren Eva, Allan Dickinson and Robby Kojetin a couple of years to get our work, family and finances aligned to allow us to take two months off to go climb a mountain. We were also glad to have the company of Byron Benson and Jana Niemoller for the trek to base camp.

Whilst long and exhausting, the travel and the stopovers in between went well, but our trek started off badly when most of our team got food poisoning on day one and had to rest the next day, and then split the following day’s trek into two days to allow our depleted bodies to recover. Be that as it may, the six-day-trek was a great opportunity to adjust to mountain life, settle into a routine and shed ourselves of the thoughts, stresses and distractions of home. It was an important phase, after months of preparation, to begin to dial in and wrap our heads around the expedition ahead of us and to process what needed to be done.

The trek to K2 is renowned as being equally beautiful and brutal, and it lived up to its reputation, not to be underestimated. But the beauty and ruggedness was staggering. Nothing prepares you for how steep the Karakoram is until you are there. So many peaks we have read about, so much history, and so much tragedy. The first views of K2 from Concordia were literally breathtaking.

Seeing K2 in the flesh is a moment to remember, it’s spectacular and frightening in equal measure and we stared at it for the next 11 kilometres on our way to K2 BC. Along the way we passed the base camp for Broad Peak. Many people tried, but very few succeeded in their ambitions of climbing Broad Peak and K2.

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