Top New Trips for 2012: Geographic Expeditions -- K2: An Expedition to the North Face
Join an exhilarating adventure to the little-visited slope of an iconic peak with Geographic Expeditions.
Geographic Expeditions: K2: An Expedition to the North Face
“The Mountain of Mountains,” the great Himalayan historian G. O. Dyhrenfurth called K2. A solitary, regal colossus from any vantage point, the world’s second-highest mountain is particularly inspiring from the north, as Francis Younghusband, the first outsider — and, because of its remoteness, one of the first humans of any variety — to see it from there, wrote in Wonders of the Himalaya: “Now, all of a sudden, as we rounded a corner, I saw . . . a monarch. . . . It was one of those sights which make you literally gasp as you suddenly see them. My whole being seemed to come to a standstill, and then to go rushing out in a kind of joyous wonder.”
Our rigorous, expeditionary trek to the monarch, led by beloved longtime GeoEx trip leader Vassi Koutsaftis, takes us to the very spot where Younghusband had his epiphany, “an impression which has lasted through life,” and takes us even farther and higher, to K2’s North Base Camp, a place few people have ever been. (The mountain, for logistical and political reasons, has almost always been approached from the eastern, Pakistani, side. We pioneered the North Face trek in the early ’80s. We know how to do it and we know that it is a magnificently rare, scenically triumphant, world-class adventure.)
We fly from Beijing to Kashgar, in China’s farthest west, then drive south, skirting the Taklamakan Desert, to Kargilik (or Yeching), Mazar, and Yilik, where we begin 18 days of ultra-remote, camel-supported trekking. From atop 15,973-foot Aghil Pass on the trek’s third day, we have a vast view of the Karakoram, a sight that Younghusband called “the fulfillment of every dream.” Now down to the legendary Shaksgam Valley and onward through seriously rough glacial landscapes to Advance Base Camp, at 17,056 feet.
Throughout, the mountain of mountains is an eloquent, almost incantatory presence. One of our exemplars, Eric Shipton — as tough and unfrilly and mountain-wise as they come — wrote of first seeing the peak from the north in his classic Blank on the Map: “The sight was beyond my comprehension, and I sat gazing at it with a kind of timid fascination.”
K2: An Expedition to the North Face: September 28-October 24; from $11,450.