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High on K2: Seracs above the Bottleneck

The Bottleneck is a location along the South-East Spur, known also as Abruzzi Spur— the most used route to the top of K2, the second-highest mountain in the world, in the Karakoram on the Pakistan/China border.

The Bottleneck is a narrow couloir, which is overhung by seracs from the ice field east of the summit. The couloir is located only 400m below the summit, and climbers have to traverse about 100m exposed to the seracs to pass it. Due to the height (8200m) and the steepness (50-60 degrees) this stretch is the most dangerous part of the route.[1] According to AdventureStats, 13 out of the last 14 fatalities on K2 have occurred at or near the Bottleneck.[2][better source needed]

Despite all the dangers, the Bottleneck is still technically the easiest and the fastest route to the summit. Most climbers choose to use it to minimize time required to spend above 8,000 metres (the "death zone"). The standard route, the Abruzzi Spur (SE), as well as the Cesen route (SSE Ridge, which joins SE Ridge), and the American variety on the NE Ridge (traverse across E Face to SE Ridge), all attain the summit via the Bottleneck.

The climbers approaching the bottleneck start from a shoulder, an almost level ground just below 8,000 metres, where typically the highest camp is located. The bottom end of the couloir drops to the south face of the mountain, and it gradually steepens to 60 degrees just below the ice field. It is not possible to climb up the icefield, which rises straight up tens of metres, but one has to traverse leftwards at the bottom of the icefield 100 metres until it is possible to pass the icefield.

It is possible to bypass the Bottleneck by rock-climbing the cliffs on the left. Unfortunately their technical difficulty is quite high, so this slow-going alternative has only been done once, by Fritz Wiessner and Pasang Dawa Lama Sherpa in 1939.

On August 4, 2009, Dave Watson became the first person in history to ski down the Bottleneck.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ K2climb.net, The climb from the Pakistan side
  2. ^ K2 fatalities adventurestats.com. Retrieved 18 October 2011.
  3. ^ K2 Ski Expedition 2009

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bottleneck_(K2) — Please support Wikipedia.
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15 news items

About - News & Issues (blog)

About - News & Issues (blog)
Wed, 17 Feb 2010 12:36:40 -0800

The most common climbing route that climbers take to ascend K2 is the Abruzzi Spur or the Southeast Ridge. The ridge and route looms menacingly above Base Camp on the Godwin-Austen Glacier on the south side of the mountain. The Abruzzi Spur route ...

Doglotion.com - Freeskiing News

Doglotion.com - Freeskiing News
Sun, 20 Sep 2009 23:10:08 -0700

The internet has been buzzing since ski mountaineer Dave Watson skied the infamous 'Bottleneck Couloir' on K2 in August. It's one of the most challenging mountains on the planet, and just climbing is a feet that few accomplish.


Tue, 07 Aug 2012 20:28:44 -0700

(Newsdesk) "You have to be sure on your feet" said Italian Nives Meroi who did it without fixed rope or oxygen and she wasn't kidding. A recent debrief from K2 by Adam Bielecki published at polishwinterhimalaism.pl runs stunning pictures of the steep peak.

Everest News

Everest News
Sat, 08 Aug 2009 10:26:15 -0700

Earlier: Sepp Bachmair, Louis Rousseau and Gerfried are in the basecamp of K2 preparing their journey home. They are exhausted, the hard work through the deep snow costed them lots of energy. On friday they will leave the basecamp over Gondora- La to ...

Boulder Weekly

Boulder Weekly
Thu, 30 Aug 2012 10:45:34 -0700

"Among mountaineers Sherpas hold nearly mythical status. They have this seemingly superhuman ability to perform incredible climbing feats,” relates Peter Zuckerman, coauthor of Buried in the Sky: The Extraordinary Story of the Sherpa Climbers on K2's ...

Everest News

Everest News
Sun, 07 Feb 2010 00:00:00 -0800

Gerfried spotted me and waved, then came to where Dave and I were sitting, just under a rock formation, the place for the last anchor at the bottleneck. Louis, a tall Canadian from Montreal, climbed and climbed well with the Austrian team on Nanga Parbat.
Everest News
Tue, 25 Aug 2009 00:00:00 -0700

Summit Push. Part One: The light of my headlamp is facilitating my upward progress, I just left C4 alone, Dave is due to start any moment. I am taking it easy hoping he will catch up soon, the path is straight up and I am about to make the first turn ...

ESPN (blog)

ESPN (blog)
Fri, 06 Aug 2010 12:01:55 -0700

Betweeen 7 and 8 a.m. on Friday morning in Pakistan, Swedish mountaineer and professional skier Fredrik "Frippe" Ericsson fell to his death while attempting to summit 28,253-foot K2, the world's second tallest peak. Ericsson was attempting to become ...

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