The climbing season on K2 has kicked off, with 54 expeditions attempting to summit the mountain made famous by prominent use of nitro-glycerine, exploding pigs and a sociopathic Richard Branson impersonator in Vertical Limit. This year is the 50th anniversary of its first ascent, so like Chomolungma/Mt Everest last year, and encouraged by cut-price permits from the Pakistani authorities, there will be an assembly-line procession of rich CEOs whose training consists of several months on a stair-master being pushed up the hill by cigarette-smoking sherpas. Amidst their glory moment, some real mountaineering will be taking place, ranging from the siege tactics of the massive Italian expedition, to some pure alpine climbing.
Somewhere in the middle is the China Tibet Mountaineering Team, who have been spat off the second highest mountain twice before, and are giddy with anticipation at the prospect of ticking the second-to-last of the 14 mountains higher than 8 000 meters. The 10 person team currently beginning their ascent in collaboration with the Alpine club of Pakistan hope to become the first Chinese to reach the summit.