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ISLAMABAD: Mountaineers have climbed to the top of K2 for the first time since 2014 on Friday, despite bad weather.

British-American mountaineer Vanessa O’Brien led her team to the top of the second highest mountain in the world and reached the summit at about 12:25pm.

Veteran Pakistani climber Nazir Sabir, who is managing Ms O’Brien’s expedition, confirmed that her team had started descending and that more news will follow once they are at base camp. The team used bottled oxygen to climb to the summit at 8,611 metres.

“Heavy snowfall and continuous bad weather in the Karakorum Range were the biggest challenges. It snowed late in the spring, in March and April, more that it did in the winters. Heavy snowfall takes more energy to negotiate and the risk of avalanches also increases,” Mr Sabir told Dawn.

According to the veteran climber, most of the six expeditions on K2 had turned back given the dangerous climbing conditions and there were very few clear weather windows.

“Persistence paid off for O’Brien who stayed at camp III with her team and started off for the summit the moment she had a chance,” Mr Sabir said, adding that it was yet to be confirmed how many climbers in the team reached the top.

Also known as the ‘savage mountain’, K2 is one of the hardest mountains to climb, which claims the lives of one out of every five climbers attempting to reach the top and climbers could not get to the top of the mountain in 2015-16.

“It is an extremely steep peak and the easiest route on K2 is harder than some of the toughest routes on the other mountains that stand at more than 8,000 metres,” Mr Sabir said,

That the K2 has been climbed this year came as a surprise to some climbers who thought that like last year, the mountain will remain unconquerable.

“I have been to the K2 base camp this season and it was in a bad mood. It did not seem like the mountain will allow anyone to climb it,” said Mohammad Ali, who has climbed the Nanga Parbat and the Gasherbrum II.

Mr Sabir also confirmed two more historical climbs on Broad Peak. Spanish mountaineer Oscar Cadiach made history two days ago by climbing Broad Peak and has now climbed all of the world’s 14 highest peaks and Kari Rostad became the first Norwegian to climb Broad Peak two days ago. Bulgarian mountaineer Boyan Petrov made history after reaching the top of Gasherbrum II on July 22, completing his dream of having climbed all the mountains in Pakistan that are more than 8,000 metres high.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2017