K2: Triumph and Tragedy – Jim Curran

Jim Curran’s account of the 1986 K2 season which saw 13 deaths on the world’s second highest mountain. In contrast to the 1996 Everest “disaster”, we’re still in the era of pre-commercial climbs by experienced climber-mountaineers: 27 summitted, including Alan Rouse who became the first British person to do so.

This is a thoughtful account and analysis of the causes of the tragedy. Jim Curran was the cameraman-climber with the British expedition, and was in base camp as the season’s final attempts to reach the summit played out 3000m above. He knew many of those in the group of 7 climbers – a mixture of Poles, British and Austrians from 3 different expedition teams – who found themselves trapped by a storm at over 8000m for 6 days following their summit bids on 4th August. Two made it down to base camp on the Savoia Glacier.

Amazon link: K2: Triumph and Tragedy – Jim Curran

K2: The Story of the Savage Mountain – Jim Curran

Moving away from Everest ascents, deaths and other disasters to read about more of the same on the next highest mountain – Pakistan’s K2.

A good run through the British Empire’s discovery and mapping of the mountain and attempts to climb it up to 1995 (but narrowly missing Alison Hargreaves). Lots of focus on the psychology of a successful ascent (and descent) and team dynamics.

I’ve long wanted to revisit the Karakoram, and Concordia in particular with its massive glaciers and stunning views of these mighty peaks. Gilgit-Baltistan (more familiar to me as the Northern Areas of Pakistan) is a beautiful part of the world. Having read this book, I want to all the more.

Amazon link: K2: The Story of the Savage Mountain – Jim Curran
More reading: Stories From The ‘Savage Mountain’: Death On K2 (NPR)