A brief history of the mountaineer's mountain

Though it's the world's second tallest mountain, K2 has gained a reputation as the darkest and deadliest peak on earth. Below is an archive of Outside stories spanning more than two decades, filed by great writers like Jon Krakauer, Greg Childs, Kevin Fedarko, and more.


Rick Ridgeway, foreground, and John Roskelley, members of the first American expedition to summit K2, ascend the northeast ridge in 1978.

The Everest Circus Has Moved to K2
By Sam Moulton
July 2009
Climbing K2 is the next biggest thing. We refuse to whine about it.

A Few False Moves
By Michael Kodas
September 2008
In early August, after 11 climbers died on the world’s second-highest peak, people wanted to know: Has the Everest circus migrated to K2? MICHAEL KODAS pieced together the events from eight of the survivors and has a straight answer: Sort of.
Plus: An interactive guide to understanding the tragedy.

The Mountain of Mountains
By Kevin Fedarko
November 2003
How do you crack the code to K2, the darkest, deadliest peak on the planet? If you're a climber, have the courage to accept that you're bound to fail, and the wisdom to know that failure has its own rewards.

Buhler's Mountain Monster
By Pieter vanNoordennen
An interview with K2 veteran Carlos Buhler on why K2 has affected him like no other mountain during more than three decades of climbing.

The Last Ascent of Alison Hargreaves
By Greg Child
November 1995
Greg Child investigates why the world's finest woman alpinist never came off K2.

The K2 Tragedy
Outside Online
On Tuesday, August 15, Outside Online received a tragic call from the basecamp at K2. Seven mountaineers, including Alison Hargreaves, had died on the deadly peak. We held the story for more than a day while family members were notified. In subsequent days, we were the only reliable sources of information about this climbing disaster.

The Dangerous Summer
By Greg Child and Jon Krakauer
March 1987
In 1986 on K2 year, 27 climbers made it to the top—and 13 died. At the edge of Himalayan mountaineering, is there any room left to fail?

More Travel