The anniversary of the first expedition to K2

The summit was reached by the first expedition on July 31, 1954

In history there have been many very important events that are still remembered today. In particular, the conquests such as reaching a mountain peak for the first time are indelible events. Today we celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the first expedition to K2.

Italian Traditions will lead you on the discovery of this incredible mountain which is the second highest in the world. In addition we will tell you about the events related to the first time in which it was climbed. Finally we will talk about the controversy that followed this undertaking.


The K2

Credits: Scott

K2 is also known as Mount Godwin-Austen or Dapsang and is located in the Karakorum mountain range in the Himalayas. Its height of 8600 meters puts it in second place in the ranking of the highest mountains in the world behind Everest. It is one of the most difficult peaks to climb as evidenced by the high mortality rate. In fact, only one climber every four reaches its peak. Its slopes are higher than those of Everest and it is much more difficult and complex.

The expedition

Credits: Udine 20


The first expedition to K2 was an Italian mountaineering expedition sponsored by various bodies. These were:

  • Italian Alpine Club
  • National Research Council
  • Military Geographical Institute
  • Italian state.


The two mountaineers who reached the summit were Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli. The team consisted of 30 members, thirteen Italian alpinists, ten porters, five researchers and two Pakistani members. At the head of the expedition was Ardito Desio who always remained at the base camp at an altitude of 4900 meters, leaving the command of the high-altitude expedition to Compagnoni.



The camps for the first expedition to the K2 were set up between the end of May and the beginning of June. On July 18th , the two roped parties, one made up by Walter Bonatti and Lacedelli and the other by Companoni and Rey, finished fixing the ropes to the Black Pyramid, one of the most complicated passes at an altitude of 7,000 meters. After some health problems and unfavorable weather conditions on July 28th , Lacedelli and Compagnoni were chosen to reach the summit. They reached it at 6:00 p.m. on July 31st , 1954.

The route followed and the management of the expedition

The first expedition on the K2 followed the road called Sperone degli Abruzzi that had been discovered in 1909 by the expedition of the Duke of Abruzzi Luigi Amedeo di Savoia. In total, nine camps were positioned plus the base one which was at an altitude of 4900 meters. These allowed the Italian expedition to reach the summit for the first time.


Walter Bonatti Eric Abram K2 1954

The K2 case

There have been numerous controversies following the publication of Ardito Desio’s official report. Some of these were moved in the days just after the Pakistan accused the Italian expedition of not mentioning Amir Mahdi who had been the victim of serious amputations caused by freezing. Other controversies refer to the last days of the climb and concern Bonatti and the two climbers who reached the summit. The controversy continued for several years until 2008 when the Italian geographical Society accepted Walter Bonatti’s version.

Some achievements like the conquest of the K2 peak are indelible in history as they represent a unique event. If you want to know more about characters that have made the history of our country we suggest you read this article too. Now that you know when the anniversary of the first expedition to the K2 occurs, all that remains is to celebrate this unique undertaking.


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