Vertical Limit: K2, The Savage Mountain - ICE CAVES AND CREVASSES

Climbing any mountain—especially a mountain like K2—can be really dangerous. There are hidden formations which climbers may not see (and visible formations which they can see but cause lots of trouble). In this image, we see a moulin (also called a glacier mill) at the Athabasca Glacier (in the Canadian Rockies). Photo by Wikimedia user “China Crisis.” License: CC BY-SA 3.0


Turning north from Baltoro, climbers trek the Godwin-Austen Glacier toward K2. Named for an early explorer of the region, Henry Haversham Godwin-Austen, the glacier leads to K2's base camp (at 5,135 meters altitude). Broad Peak, just east of the Godwin-Austen glacier, overlooks the route to K2.

Although the base of the mountain (from the Godwin-Austen glacier) is a sight to behold, (as it is from the Gasherbrum Glacier), getting to that point is comparatively hazard-free. Ascending to the summit—only attempted by the most fit and experienced climbers—is marked by both obvious and hidden dangers.

Constant snow cover completely masks openings to ice caves and crevasses. Even the most seasoned climbers can fall into a crevasse or cave without warning. (The links take you to a snow picture—from the stunning perspective of a scanning electron microscope.) The USGS tells us that a really deep crevasse could measure 100 feet!

Vittorio Sella, the renowned Italian mountain photographer, took the first pictures of K2 and its pitfalls. It was 1909. Sella had previously ordered a special camera weighing 40 pounds to record what he found. Such scenes as 1888's Crevasse on the Glacier Blanc, although not taken on K2 itself, demonstrate the perils of a crevasse.

Ice caves can be even worse because of their size. Caverns, they can be unmanageable for climbers to exit without rescue. And rescue, on K2, may not always be possible.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Dec 01, 2000

Updated Last Revision: Jul 17, 2019

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"ICE CAVES AND CREVASSES" AwesomeStories.com. Dec 01, 2000. Feb 20, 2020.
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