Mountaineering: New Route, Same Dangers

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Outside magazine, June 1994

Mountaineering: New Route, Same Dangers
By Todd Balf (with Martin Dugard and Eric Hagerman)

Because of a well-earned reputation as the world’s most dangerous 8,000-meter peak, K2 doesn’t see a lot of new routes–the old ones are tough enough. This month a well-credentialed veteran trio hopes to shake things up with a two-day alpine-style ascent on the mountain’s unclimbed West Face. “We’ve wanted to try this thing for a while,” says alpinist Carlos Buhler of Ahsahka,
Idaho, who will team up with Poland’s Voytek Kurtyka and Kristof Wielicki. “For us it’s the objective of objectives.” According to Buhler, the so-called Crescent Line will be a technical challenge, but no suicide mission. There are no icefalls as on Everest, no overhanging seracs as on Kanchenjunga. Of chief concern–in addition to the Karakoram Range’s notoriously bad
weather–are two bands of rock, 300 to 400 feet wide, that require tedious technical work. “Hopefully,” says Buhler, “we’ll climb roughly 2,000 meters in the first 20 hours, bivouack around 26,500 feet, and deal with the last 600 meters on the last day. Then get down.”

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