Woman Reaches K2's Summit, And A Place In History | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Woman Reaches K2's Summit, And A Place In History

Play associated audio

At more than 28,000 feet, K2 is the second-highest mountain in the world. And when Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner reached its summit this week, she became the first woman to climb all 14 of the world's tallest peaks without using any supplementary oxygen.

Morning Edition guest host David Greene caught up with Kaltenbrunner, of Austria, at K2's upper base camp, speaking over a crackling satellite phone connection. She and her husband, Ralf Dujmovits, have also been writing a blog from the mountain for the National Geographic website.

"It was a big challenge, and now, finally, we could reach the top," she said.

Straddling the Pakistan-China border, K2 is known as the "Savage Mountain," because it presents such a treacherous climb for the alpinists who hope to reach its summit.

On her climb, Kaltenbrunner's husband — who has previously climbed K2 — ended his attempt to reach the summit.

"He tried to convince me to come back with him, of course," Kaltenbrunner says, "because he has another view of risk than I have. But I could convince him that I have a very good feeling, I know that there is avalanche danger, but we can avoid the danger somehow. I had a very good feeling."

Kaltenbrunner, 40, approached the summit along with three other climbers, coming from the Chinese side of K2 — considered a longer and more difficult climb than ascending from the Pakistani side.

She had already tried to climb the mountain at least four times; several of her teammates died in those attempts, including one last year.

"He tried to live his dreams, and we do the same," she says of her 2010 teammate, Fredrik Ericsson. "We know that something can happen. But the mountain is still there — very beautiful, very powerful."

During their two-month trek to K2's summit, the team of climbers sometimes waded through waist-deep snow and had to fight high winds. There were moments when Kaltenbrunner said it was so cold, she lost feeling in her fingers and toes.

But at the top, Kaltenbrunner says, the view from the peak was magical. In her words, it was "the most wonderful moment ever."

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Speed Dating For Seniors Who Aren't Interested In Slowing Down

A new film follows daters ages 70 to 90 looking for love in five-minute intervals. "Speed dating for seniors" may sound funny, but The Age of Love is really about our lifelong need for intimacy.
NPR

Eat Your Veggies! Even The Ones From Fukushima

Foods from Fukushima, Japan, are back to pre-accident levels of radiation but people still aren't eating them. One way to ease concerns: a chemical that blocks radioactive cesium from entering plants.
NPR

'Zionist Union' Party Creates A Stir In Israeli Elections

The opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party in the Israeli elections calls itself the "Zionist Union" as it looks to claim the country's middle-ground voters.
NPR

'Respect The Robot': Giant Robots Oversee Traffic In Kinshasa

Two giant robots have directed traffic in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo since 2013. This week three others joined them.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.