An group of three American climbers have traveled to the Kashmir mountain range this summer, where they will attempt to become the first team to successfully summit Saser Kangri II, the second highest unclimbed peak in the world. The mountain, which stands 24,665 feet in height, is located in a very remote region of northern India that is only accessible during the summer months.
The team consists of climbers Freddie Wilkinson, Mark Richey and Steve Swenson, all of whom are very experienced high altitude mountaineers. Richey and Swenson made an attempt on Saser Kangri II back in 2009, reaching as high as 22,500 feet before turning back due to bad weather. They’ve decided to return to the mountain to finish off what they started, and asked Wilkinson to tag along for the climb.
Saser Kangri II is the second of four summits on the Saser Kangri massif, and as mentioned above, is the second highest unclimbed peak in the world. The highest unclimbed peak is a mountain named Gangkhar Puensum, which is located inside Bhutan, and is 24,836 feet in height. Many of the inhabitants of Bhutan believe that the tallest mountains in their country are sacred ground, and as a result, the government has banned mountaineering on any peak above 6000 meters or roughly 19,685 feet. In other words, no one can climb Gangkhar Puensum, so mountaineers looking for the next big challenge give Saser Kangri a try instead.
The team set out for India earlier in the week, and it will take them a number of days just to trek into Base Camp, located at about 17,000 feet on the mountain. Over the next few weeks, they’ll be scouting the route they hope to take to the summit, while slowly acclimatizing to the altitude. If everything goes as scheduled, they’ll be making their attempt at the summit in early August, and with a little luck, become the first men to stand on the top of the mountain.
[Photo courtesy of Steve Swenson]