Way back in July we told you about an expedition to climb Saser Kangri II, which at the time had the distinction of being the worlds second tallest unclimbed peak. Two months later, we can now remove that qualifier from the mountain’s description, as a three man team successfully reached the summit in late August.
Located in a remote region of northern India, Saser Kangri II stands 24,665 feet in height and offers a significant technical climbing challenge to go along with the difficulties that are typically associated with high altitude. It was because of these challenges that the mountain remained unclimbed even into the 21st century, when most of the big Himalayan peaks have been conquered.
In July, climbers Steve Swenson, Mark Richey, and Freddie Wilkinson began their expedition by first traveling to northern India, then trekking three days to Base Camp. After spending a couple of weeks scouting the mountain, acclimatizing to the altitude, and establishing two camps, the team started their climb on August 21st. Over the next three days they made an alpine style ascent, overcoming a tough 5577-foot rock face in the process, to stand on top on the 24th.
Their adventure was far from over at that point however, as Swenson, who had developed a sinus infection on the climb, had his health take a turn for a worse. The infection grew into a serious respiratory issue, which could have been life threatening at high altitude, and he had to be evacuated from the mountain via helicopter on August 26th. He spent the next few days recovering in a local hospital, where he was later joined by his climbing partners, before the entire team made its way home.
With Saser Kangri II officially climbed, Labuche Kang III, a 23,786-foot tall mountain located in Tibet now has the distinction of being the second tallest unclimbed peak. It is likely to be a popular destination for future climbers looking to get their names in the history books by making a first ascent. As we noted in the original story, the tallest unclimbed mountain in the world is the 24,836 foot Gangkhar Puensum in Bhutan. That peak is considered sacred ground however, so climbing is strictly forbidden there.