Nepalese climbers make history by scaling K2 mountain in winter

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger

A team of Nepalese climbers has made history by becoming the first to scale the world’s second highest peak during the brutal winter months.

Four international climbing teams had arrived about a month ago to try scaling Pakistan’s K2 — the last peak above 8,000 metres in the world to not be climbed in the winter.

But while the other climbers were forced to turn back, the 10 Nepalese sherpas made it to the summit of K2 at around 5pm on Saturday.

Among the successful team was Nepalese mountaineer - a former Gurkha soldier from Hampshire and special forces solider, Nirmal Purja.

Mr Purja described the climb as the "toughest decision made, an exhilarating experience of solidarity and power of positivity".

He added: "We set out to make the impossible possible.... Mother nature always has bigger things to say and standing on the summit, witness to the sheer force of her extremities.

"We are proud to have been a part of history for humankind and to show that collaboration, teamwork and a positive mental attitude can push limits to what we feel might be possible."At 8,611 meters (28,251 feet), K2 is the most prominent peak on the Pakistani side of the Himalayan range, and the world’s second tallest after Mount Everest.

Winter winds on K2 can blow at more than 125 miles per hour and temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees celsius.

Mr Purja and his nine team members had to sleep in a shallow crevasse at one point as it was too windy to put up their tents.

“This was never done by anyone before in winter,” the secretary of Pakistan’s Alpine Club, Karrar Haideri said.

Since the maiden attempt back in 1988, just a handful of winter expeditions have been attempted on the peak.

Mr Haideri said no mountaineers had reached higher than 7,750 meters, until Saturday when fair weather conditions allowed the climbers to push ahead.

According to the Alpine Club, 48 climbers - an unprecedented number - across four teams converged on the mountain this winter, more than all the previous winter expeditions put together.

Haideri said that the 10 Nepalese climbers had earlier been spread across the different teams, but formed a new group in order to claim the feat in Nepal’s name.