By Cmglee (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons


From Wikipedia

K2 (also known as Mount Godwin-Austen or Chogori) is the second highest mountain in the world at 8,611 metres (28,251 feet) above sea level. It is located on the China-Pakistan border in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan and Xinjiang, China.  K2 is known as the Savage Mountain due to the extreme difficulty of ascent. It has the second-highest fatality rate among the eight-thousanders, with one person who dies on the mountain for every four who summit.

Climbing History

The British led the way with Martin Conway in 1892 and by Oscar Eckenstein and Aleister Crowley in 1902.  The 1902 expedition reached 6,525 meters after five serious and costly attempts.  They spent 68 days climbing, taking three tons of equipment carried by 150 porters.  Unfortunately it was reported that they only saw 8 days of clear weather – never more than two in a row.

The Italians arrived second and would summit first, but not yet.  In 1909, The Duke of Abruzzi would reconnoitre K2, taking 3 times as much food and equipment as the British in 1902.  Unable to set a new height record on K2, The Duke of Abruzzi moved to nearby Chogolisa peak where he sets a new altitude record of 7,300 meters.

A 29-year gap prevails until 1938 & 1939 when the Americans arrive.  Charles Houston and Robert Bates try first, but hit bad weather and diminishing supplies and return home, but not until they achieve 8,000 meters.  In 1939, Fritz Wiessner arrives and is able to climb within 200 meters of the summit, forced to descend as darkness falls upon him and his Sherpa.  His expedition ends with sorrow and K2’s first fatalities – Dudley Wolfe and three Sherpa – Pasang Kikula, Pasang Kitar and Pintso.

14 years later the Americans return.  Charles Houston leads a new team in 1953.  This time an unexpected storm traps the team at 7,800 meters for 10 days during which time Art Gilkey becomes ill with thrombosis.  Planning his rescue, the team tie Art to his sleeping bag and attempt to lower him.  This is when two accidents occur.  The first is when a climber slips resulting in Pete Schoening’s famous ice axe belay (in which Pete’s ice axe holds five climbers and saves their lives), and the other is when an avalanche sweeps Art’s body down the mountain.

The Italian ascent in 1954 would lead to the first K2 summit as they take 5 miles of rope and 10 members.  The leader, Ardito Desio chose Archille Compagnoni and Lino Lacadelli to make the summit bid, however both were assisted Amir Mehdi and Walter Bonatti, who supplied them with oxygen at high altitude.

Taking Life to New Heights

When you’re looking for a motivational speaker for your event, what better choice than the first British female to summit K2 mountain? Vanessa O’Brien is a renowned mountaineer, explorer, motivational speaker, and author. Her memoir, To the Greatest Heights, explores her many summits to some of the tallest mountains in the world, including Mt. Everest and Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Through her experiences, and through being deemed the first British female to summit K2, she has an exceptional ability to motivate and get audiences excited about conquering the challenges ahead of them.

As someone who has taken mountaineering to new heights, Vanessa O’Brien uses mountaineering as a metaphor to help corporate teams take their own goals to their highest peaks. Her ability to educate audiences in a humorous, quasi-British way has become exceptionally effective in generating motivation in the corporate world as well as in encouraging audiences to seek adventure and achieve their personal and professional goals.

Learn more about Vanessa and her accomplishments by visiting her profile page. You can book her for your next event online.

From DC Comics

Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #2 – the Curse of K2

Wonder Woman must rescue Lois Lane on an expedition to the treacherous mountain K2! Lois is hot on the trail of a missing group of female climbers who are hoping to conquer the peak. But what dangers lurk in K2’s snow-covered caverns and will she survive?

© E. Jurgalski for

Seven Summits: Defining the Continents, © 2008 Adam Helman, Ph.D.

To learn more about 8,000 meter peaks see