Which is harder, Everest or K2?

Whether you are an avid climber or not, you have probably heard of Mount Everest. It is the highest mountain in the world and is notorious for being an extremely challenging climb, one that is sure to be on any experienced mountaineer’s bucket list. However, one mountain that is not so widely known is

K2 which straddles the Pakistan-China border. Although it is around two and half football fields shorter than Mount Everest, it is considered to be the toughest and most dangerous mountain in the world to climb. In this article we are going to take a look at Mount Everest and K2 to weigh up which mountain is a bigger challenge.

Mount Everest

Mount Everest is the highest mountain on Earth above sea level, located in the Mahalangur Himal sub-range in the Himalayas. The China-Nepal border runs across Mount Everest’s summit point which is elevated 8,849 metres above sea level.


K2 is the world’s second highest mountain and lies in Pakistan’s Karakoram range. This mountain is 8,611 metres above sea level. It was given the symbol K2 because it was the second peak measured in the Karakoram Range.

Mount Everest Vs K2

  1. Getting there– The logistics of getting to Mount Everest are easier than that of getting to K2. This is due to where each of the mountains are located. With Mount Everest being located in Nepal, it is much easier to get to than K2 which is located in Pakistan, a much more challenging country to get to due to the requirement of visas.
  2. Reaching base camp– The track up to the base camp of Mount Everest is a dirt track that is relatively easy to climb. K2 on the other hand requires travelling over a glacier in order to reach base camp.
  3. Mountain shape– The shape of each mountain plays an important role in its difficulty levels. K2 is shaped like a triangle meaning you are practically climbing at a demanding incline level from day dot. Mount Everest on the other hand has lots of twists and turns making it less steep which gives climbers respite on the way up.
  4. Weather conditions– Another significant challenge of climbing any mountain is the unpredictable weather, however, K2 has considerably more unpredictable weather than Everest.
  5. Technicality– Although both Mount Everest and K2 are very technical to climb, K2 has a bigger mixture of terrains including a mixture of rock, ice and alpint climb.
  6. Harder to summit– on average there is a 40% chance of not summiting K2, typically in a year there are less than 400 summits overall compared to Everest’s 7500 summits. This demonstrates that K2 is considerably harder to climb and successfully summit than Mount Everest.

Overall, it is apparent that K2 is significantly harder to successfully summit than Mount Everest making it a much more challenging climb.

Risks of climbing

Although K2 appears more difficult to climb, do not underestimate the challenge of climbing either of these mountains. Both mountains take up to two months to climb, require at least a year of training and an incredible level of fitness. Even if you are a seasoned climber with experience climbing at high altitudes in cold weather conditions and are at an optimum fitness level, there are still a number of risks to consider:

  • Altitude sickness
  • Unpredictable weather
  • Avalanches and icefalls
  • Extremely cold temperatures
  • Oxygen deprivation
  • Neurological and psychological conditions

Insurance for climbing Mount Everest or K2

Anyone who regularly participates in climbing and mountaineering should have financial protection in place. Since this sport is considered relatively high risk, it is important to have the right cover in place in the event of a mountaineering related injury which may prevent you from being able to financially support yourself and your loved ones. If you are considering life insurance for mountaineering, it may be worth contacting the UKs leading specialist insurance provider for extreme sports- Sports Financial Services. They offer excellent insurance services for extreme sports participants and can arrange the best mountaineering cover at the best rates.

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