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Polish Climbers Attempting First-Ever Winter Ascent of K2

Climbing K2 in the winter is extremely dangerous. Photo: Courtesy of deeltijdgod/Flickr

On New Year's Eve, a group of Polish mountain climbers set out to record the first winter ascent of K2–the world's second tallest peak–according to a report by Reuters.

The team of 13 climbers will be led by 67-year-old Krzysztof Wielicki, who attempted a winter ascent of K2 in 2003 but was unable to reach the summit. Wielicki told Reuters the group hopes to begin climbing either Jan. 8 or 9 and will spend around three months on the mountain if successful, returning to basecamp by mid-March.

The attempt by the climbers is notable not only for its historic nature but for just how dangerous K2 is, particularly during the inhospitable winter months.

Per Red Bull, as of 2013, only around 300 people had summited K2, as opposed to the more than 5,600 climbers who had stood atop the world's tallest peak–Mount Everest.

Furthermore, Red Bull reports that for every 100 climbers who summit Everest, roughly four die, whereas for every 100 climbers who summit K2 a staggering 29 climbers die on average, which is why many consider it the world's most dangerous mountain.

But team members told Reuters they are motivated by the Polish tradition of mountaineering and that what they fear most aren't the violent storms and brutal weather on the Karkoram peak, but rather missing out on seeing loved ones.

“If you ask me what’s the hardest part of the expedition or what I fear the most, it’s actually the separation from my family,” 34-year-old team member Adam Bielecki told publication.

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