The disastrous incident on K2 in 2008

K2 incident

K2 holds the record of the second highest mountain, after Mount Everest. Located on the border of Pakistan and China, this mountain is 8,611 meters above sea level. In 1953, an American climber George Bell named it as a savage Mountain. It is said that one out of every four climbers die during their attempt to climb the mountain.

Climbers from all around the world who desire to climb the highest peak move toward K2 for their new expedition. This mountain cannot be climbed in the winter due to the weather condition. Summer is the best time to climb this mountain range without facing any hurdles. No one has ever tried to climb this mountain range in winter because it is impossible.

The dangerous peak

Mount Everest, the highest mountain is 8,848 meters above sea level, and K2 is 8,611 meters above sea level. Although the peak of Mount Everest is high but K2 is difficult to climb in comparison to Mount Everest. It is also known as the king of the mountains. It is a dangerous peak to climb due to its weather condition, its steeper slope, its straight and hard routes, rock falling and avalanches. The dead bodies of the mountaineers are left their isolated because it is impossible to carry them off the mountain. However, their names embarked on the steels plate and hanged near the mountain.

Gilkey Memorial

What happened in 2008?

The death incident in 2008 on K2 is known as the worst in the history of the K2 mountaineers. On that day, 11 mountaineers lost their lives and several got severely injured. Now here is the tragic and horrible story of the K2 incident that happened in 2008. In July 2008, during the scorching summer season, mountaineers from around the world planned to head toward K2 for their expedition.

People from 10 countries gathered at the base of K2

It was the last week of July when six teams from around the world gathered on the base of K2 desiring to climb the highest challenging peak. They set up their camps and planned for their expedition. There were people from Holand, Norway, Serbia, Norway, France, Korea, Italy, Ireland and Nepal who were in 6 groups. Among them were also two porters from Pakistan.

* Porters are the people who aid the mountaineers to climb the mountains.

The terrific adventure began on Friday 31st July 2008 when a group of 30 people started moving to the peak of K2. Instead of traveling individually or in different teams they decided to make a grand team and move forward.

Van Roijan was selected the leader of the grand team

Van Roijan, an experienced Dutch mountaineer, who has experience of climbing several peaks, was selected as the leader of the team. The Korean team was tasked to fix ropes on the mountain.

They started their movement early in the morning at 3 am and were expected to reach the peak by that evening. The initial hours went fine and everything was going up to the plan.

First unfortunate incident

The first incident occurred in the morning at 8 am when Dren Mandiac, a Serbian team member unclipped himself from the fixed rope. He wanted to climb the peak first by surpassing other members and also to attend his oxygen system. At this moment he got separated from the team and tried to move forward. This made him lose his balance and he fell 328 feet down towards the bottleneck.

Jehan Baig falls

Some claim that a Pakistani porter too fell down with Mendiac while saving him. Others claim that the mountaineers saw Mendiac moving after the fall and the team was sent down for his rescue. However, they found no pulse in him and he was declared dead. Mendiac’s body was wrapped in the country’s flag and was set aside. Jehan Baig unclipped himself for saving the lives of the climbers during which he fell to his death.

The horrific death of Rolf Bay

Two people died which caused a worry in the team and most of the mountaineers decided to go back but more importantly they had to continue their expedition. The third person to die on the same day only after few minutes was a Norway national Rolf Bay. Rolf came to the expedition with his wife Cecilia Slog after being married for only a month.

Rolf Bay was surpassing the K2 but his bad luck was that at the time a serac (a large block of glacier) fell off and Rolf bay got buried under that.

Mountaineers decided to move free

The serac also cut off all the fixed ropes. The mountaineers were not carrying any additional ropes with them and nor were they having any equipment for fall protection hence they decided to move free solo. The only thing they could do was to descend the mountain without waiting for anything.

Van Roijan reached the peak of K2 along with 4 people by 7 pm. While waiting for the others, he decided to return but could not do anything at midnight.

The fall of Jumik Bhotay and Pasang Bhotay

Jumik Bhotay, a Nepalian mountaineer got stuck somewhere on the steep sides of the K2, his cousin Pasang Bhotey tried to help and rescue him but unfortunately, the two fell to death.

Hugues D’Aubarade

On the other side, a 61-year-old French mountaineer Hugues D’Aubarede along with his Pakistani porter Meharban Kareem was stuck somewhere on the steep bottleneck of K2. He worried that he will run short of his oxygen and tried to move back but he too fell down and died along with his porter Meharban Kareem.  Until now seven people had died during this expedition.

Van Roijan started returning

Van Roijan reached the peak of K2 along with 4 other people by 7 pm and waited for the other people with worry. However, when no one reached a peak until midnight, he decided to return from the mountain.

The time when Van Roijan was trying to come down from the mountain, he saw some Koreans climbers stuck up in the ropes, hanging on the mountains upside down and bloodied. 2 more climbers named Confortola and Mcdonald also reached the spot and tried to help them but they could not succeed because in such a situation if they would cut off their room they would fall down and die.

Avalanche swept away Mc Donald and three Koreans

Leaving them hopelessly,  they decided to move down but Mc Donald who belonged to Ireland started moving up. No one at that time could understand what made him move up.

He was moving towards his death because a sudden avalanche occurred and swiped away Mcdonald and the Koreans who were stuck in the fixed ropes.

Mountaineers lost their hope of survival

One more day passed and Van Roijan and some other mountaineers who were still alive and were stuck in the mid of the K2. Van Roijan also claimed to have eaten some ice to survive and his vision also got affected due to the direct rays of the sun that shone on the K2.  He strongly believed that he would soon die on K2 but still tried to move down to find better luck.  As he was moving down, he met a Nepalian Porter Pemba who helped several mountaineers. Pemba emerged as a miracle for the people. He helped Confortola and Van Roijan.

Rescue operation by Pakistan Army

At that time the Pakistan Army helicopters also arrived to rescue the injured climbers. The injured were transferred to Skardu hospital where they were given medical aid and treatment. The operation was said to be one of the most dangerous operations but the survivors were rescued successfully.

Among the 30 mountaineers, 11 met their death while others were severely injured. This news spread widely and many books and documentaries were written on this incident. After this incident, no one tried to climb the killer mountain for the next few months.

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