Situated in the heart of the Karakoram Range, towering over the Chinese-Pakistani border, K2 is the second tallest mountain in the world and one of the toughest to climb.
With its distinctive and steep pyramidal peak, K2 rises above a small concentration of 8,000-metre (26,200-foot) peaks, all of which are located within a radius of 21 kilometres (13 miles) – the largest concentration of the 8,000ers anywhere on Earth.
Due to its remote location in the heart of Asia, getting to K2 requires a considerable effort. As a result, only a few hundred climbers have successfully made it to the summit.
The peak, which is considerably tougher to climb than Mount Everest, is also one of the deadliest 8,000ers, with roughly one fatality for every four climbers that make it to the top.
Quick Facts about K2
- The vast majority of ascents of K2 take place on the Pakistani side of the border. This side of the peak is slightly less remote and there are fewer obstacles to cross, which makes it more popular for trekkers as well.
- Like K2, the rest of the peaks in the Karakoram Range received similar names, but eventually these were dropped and the local ones remained. However, the locals had not named K2, so the British designation stood.
- In spite of numerous attempts to do so, no one has managed to climb K2 during the winter. The closest was a Polsish attempt in 2002/03, which made it to 7,650 metres (25,000 feet), but had to turn back due to the weather.
History of K2
K2 was first seen by Westerners in 1856 during Thomas George Montgomerie’s survey of the Indian subcontinent for the British army. He named the peak K2, with the K standing for Karakoram followed by a number.
The first attempt to climb the peak came in 1902, when Oscar Eckenstein (credited with inventing the crampon) made it to roughly 6,000 metres (20,000 feet) on the northeast ridge before having to turn back. Several other attempts were made in the decades following as well.
The summit of K2 was finally reached for the first time on July 31, 1954 by the Italian climbers, Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni. Their Italian expedition climbed up via the Abruzzi Spur, which remains the most commonly taken route.
Experience Required for Climbing K2
K2 is widely considered to be the toughest 8000er to climb in the world and one of the toughest mountains to summit, in general.
Regardless of the route that is taken, climbers will need to employ a mix of rock, ice and snow climbing on exposed ridge lines at high altitude.
Since most of the climbing takes place at very high altitude, climbers need to spend a couple of weeks acclimatising on the mountain before making the final summit push.
The amount of time required to climb adds to the challenge due to the relatively volatile weather experienced by the region. K2 is notorious for being on the receiving end of days-long storms that arrive on the mountain very quickly and create very dangerous conditions.
Main Routes up K2
Overall, there is one main route up to the summit of K2 and seven others. The Abruzzi Spur, which was the first route to be successfully climbed, accounts for roughly 75 percent of the climbers who head to the summit of K2.
Located on the southeast ridge of the peak, the ascent up the spur begins at about 5,400 metres (17,700 feet) and follows a series of rock ribs, snow and ice fields and two technical rock climbing portions – the House's Chimney and the Black Pyramid.
After climbing the latter of these two features, climbers reach an exposed ridge, which they will follow on to the summit. The last major obstacle is a narrow couloir that climbers traverse before making the final ascent up to the very top.
Away from the Abruzzi Spur, the South-southeast spur is the second most popular route. The route is considered slightly easier than the Abruzzi Spur and ascends a pillar adjacent to the route before meeting up with it on the shoulder above the Black Pyramid.
Other routes to the top, all of which are far more rarely climbed and generally more difficult and dangerous, include: the north ridge, the northeast ridge, the west ridge, the southwest pillar, the south face, the northwest face, the northwest ridge and the west face.
Useful information about K2, Pakistan
Height: 8,611 m (28,251 ft)
Weather: During the climbing season, average daily temperatures at the base of K2 hover around 20 ºC (68 ºF). These drop to well below freezing as elevation is gained. Summer is also the wettest time of year on K2, with around 15 millimeters (0.6 inches) of precipitation falling each month.
Peak Climbing Season: June to September
Summit Window: June to September
Average Expedition Length: 8 to 9 weeks
Accepted Currencies: Pakistani rupee (PKR)
Language: English, Urdu
How To Get To K2
The vast majority of trips to K2 begin with a flight into Islamabad International Airport (ISB). From here, most guides will meet with participants and transfer to Skardu. From Skardu, it takes about 10 days of driving and trekking to get to base camp.
Your travel route will vary depending on the expedition you choose. Please refer to the individual guides expeditions for more information.
K2 8000m Equipment Checklist
8000m equipment list courtesy of Adventure Consultants
1.0 Body Wear
2.0 Head Wear
3.0 Hand Wear
4.0 Foot Wear
5.0 Packs & Bags
6.0 Camping Gear
8.0 Climbing Equipment
9.0 Travel Gear
Clothing and Equipment Information Guide
The following information is a guide to assist you in securing the required clothing and equipment for climbing on 8000m peaks, along with recommended brands. You may have equipment you have used which is different to what is on the list, so please read thoroughly.
Fabrics/Garment Designs/Garment Selection
Today there is a bewildering and ever-changing array of modern technical fabrics and garments on the market. Accordingly, suitable mountain attire can be derived from a wide variety of garments utilised in varying combinations. The clothing on our gear list can be creatively substituted according to your preferences, but please do ensure that your choices are functional and adequate. For example, a functional and often utilised garment that does not appear on our list is a vest. Likewise, some folks will opt to use a 'wind shirt' or ultra-light windbreaker during the trek and lower on the mountain. Be aware that a wind shirt does not substitute for a Gore-Tex jacket.
A basic principle in selecting clothing and equipment is to minimise weight and bulk, while still ensuring adequate warmth and functionality. It can be difficult to find a brand that has all the features you prefer, which means you must make prudent compromises. In the descriptions below and for certain items, we suggest brands and specific products that we have found to be suitable; but this is by no means definitive. In some cases, there are multiple suitable brands on the market and hence we do not make specific suggestions.
Appropriate fabrics used in thermal underwear include polypropylene, silk and merino wool. The only cotton garment worn during the climb is your glacier shirt. Warmer insulating materials can be made from fleece, softshell or Primaloft. Varieties of fleece include Windstopper, Wind Pro, Power Shield, Windbloc, Power Dry and Power Stretch. Be aware that fleece garments that incorporate stretch fabric take longer to dry. Softshell garments integrate stretchy nylon fabrics to increase freedom of movement, while also providing various degrees of wind and water resistance in a 'softshell'. They are often lined with a microfleece for increased insulation. Synthetic insulation materials such as Primaloft are advantageous as they are warm even when damp, are water resistant and quick-drying.
1.0 Body Wear
Waterproof Shell Jacket
You will need a jacket made from Gore-Tex or a similar fabric which has a good storm hood and water-resistant zip closures. Chest pockets are useful places to store bits and pieces like snack bars and sun screen during the day. The jacket should provide a good overlap with your pants, but should not be so long it restricts access to your harness. Underarm pit zips allow for increased ventilation and cooling.
We recommend The North Face Summit Series L5, Arc’Teryx Alpha SV, Montane Endurance Pro or the Rab Latok Jackets.
Waterproof Shell Pants
Waterproof shell pants should have sufficient movement to enable you to lift your legs easily when worn with your down pants during inclement weather. They should also have full-length zips down each leg to enable you to put them on and take them off, while wearing your boots and/or crampons. A salopette style can be warmer as it has a greater overlap, although you need to choose a model which allows you to tend to bodily functions easily.
We recommend The North Face Point Five NG, Arc’teryx Alpha SL, Montane Alpine Pro or the Rab Latok Alpine Pants.
Arc’Teryx Alpha SV Jacket
The North Face Himalayan Parka
The North Face Himalayan Pants
For the down pants and jacket to be worn as 'stand-alone’ outer garments, they must have Gore-Tex or equivalent storm- proof outer fabric. You will still have to carry a Gore-Tex jacket and pants to high camp, and some climbers also elect to carry their shell garments on summit day, although this adds weight.Using separate down jacket and pants offers increased versatility of temperature regulation; wear both when it is cold, then zip off the pants as you warm up, followed by the jacket if it gets hot. When you stop for a break, you can put the jacket back on to keep warm until you start moving again. This versatility is particularly important when climbing the Lhotse Face or moving from Camp 3 to the South Col. In comparison, a down suit is cumbersome, heavy and will fill up most of your pack, when the only day it will be of any real use is on summit day. As it is impossible to put on just for a 5- minute rest, a separate down jacket must also be carried.
During the trek, at Base Camp and on the lower mountain, you will most likely wear down clothing when at camp, but not when climbing. Above Camp 3 you will almost certainly wear down clothing when climbing and during rest breaks, depending on the weather conditions at the time. The combination of separate down jacket and pants is the favoured option of Adventure Consultants’ guides. We do not recommend an all-in-one down suit due to their lack of versatility.
Ensure the jacket has an integrated hood that can be securely sealed and will not obscure vision. The down pants must have full-length side zips, so they can be put on or removed without taking boots/crampons off. Also, they must have a functional opening system for attending to calls of nature. When it comes to toilet functions, you will have to choose between a 'drop seat' and an 'under and over' zip – the former is much easier to use. Ensure the zip system you choose is compatible with your underlying fleece pants and thermals! Importantly, make sure there is a sufficient and well-sealed overlap between jacket and pants.
We recommend The North Face Himalayan Parka, Marmot 8000m Parka, Rab Expedition Jacket and The North Face Himalayan Pants, Marmot 8000m Pants or the Rab Expedition Salopettes.
Base Camp Down Jacket
Usually, dining tents will be heated which means it is not necessary to have an 8000m rated jacket for Base Camp, however an extra down jacket for Base Camp will allow you to leave your expedition down clothing at the camps higher on the mountain.
We recommend The North Face Immaculator Parka, Rab Neutrino Endurance or the Marmot Ama Dablam Down Jackets.
Lightweight Insulated Pants (Optional)
If you feel the cold, you may wish to bring a pair of synthetic insulated pants to use at Base Camp on the colder days. These are optional but recommended by previous team members for additional comfort, if you tend to feel the cold.
We recommend the Mountain Hardwear Compressor, Marmot First Light or the Rab Photon Insulated Pants.
Midweight Insulated Jacket
This can be a synthetic insulated jacket (Primaloft, etc.), insulated softshell or thick fleece with a full front zip for ventilation. Zip up pockets help to avoid losing items which are stored there and a hood is also a bonus.
We recommend The North Face Thermoball Hoody, Rab Xenon X, Montane Prism or the Arc’Teryx Proton LT Jackets.
Softshell Climbing Pants
A stretchy, quick drying pair of pants is great for climbing lower on the mountain, when it can be quite hot. These pants are also great for the trek into Base Camp.
We recommend The North Face Summit L4, Marmot Scree, Rab Vector or the Montane Champex Softshell Pants.
Lightweight Fleece Top
A lightweight (100 weight) fleece or expedition weight sweater is a good additional layer to keep your thermoregulation perfect. Wear it as your top layer when warm or put your midweight insulated jacket over it, when it gets colder. It can be a light fleece pullover or have a full zip. A zip chest pocket is useful for keeping sun cream and snack bars accessible.
We recommend The North Face TKA ¼ Zip, Rab Power Stretch Pull-on, Montane Power Up Hoodie, Patagonia R1 Hoodie, Montane Allez Micro Hoodie or the Arc’Teryx Konseal Hoody.
Rab Xenon X Jacket
Marmot Scree Softshell Pants
Montane Primino 220 Zip Tee
Bring a lightweight fleece pants equivalent to Polartec 100 or lighter, which are functional for climbing use above Base Camp. Choose between a standard pant design or a bib, sometimes referred to as ‘underalls’. If you choose the bib style, ensure it has a system of toilet opening that is compatible with your waterproof shell and down pants.
Lightweight Fleece Pants
We recommend The North Face Glacier Pants, Rab Power Stretch Pro Pants or the Rab Power Stretch Pro Bib.
On windy (but not too cold) days, a light and slightly insulated interim layer can be worn. If you have one of these, you can reduce the weight of your down jacket. More layer’s equal greater versatility and better thermoregulation all round.
We recommend the Marmot Ether DriClime Jacket and Hoody, or the Rab Vapour-Rise Alpine and Flex Jackets.
This is a light coloured long sleeved cotton shirt to be worn on hot days to prevent sunburn. It is also useful for the trek into Base Camp. An old office shirt is fine.
We recommend The North Face Long Sleeve Cool Horizon Shirt, available from our office.
Base Layer Top x 3 and Leggings x 2
We recommend you bring one set of lighweight thermals and one set of expedition weight thermals. It is recommended that the lightweight set has a white or lightly coloured top for sunny days. Shirts should have long sleeves and we recommend a high neck with a zip to allow some ventilation. Long underwear can be worn as a single layer on hot days and is used under your Gore-Tex or fleece pants, when additional warmth is required.
We recommend The North Face Warm, Earth Sea Sky First Layer, Rab Merino+, Montane Primino or Smartwool Ranges
Underwear x 5-6 Pairs
We recommend treated polyester or merino underwear instead of standard cotton as they wick away sweat from your skin, working with your thermal, fleece and Gore-Tex layers to keep you dry. They also dry extremely quickly when washed.
We recommend the Smartwool, Earth Sea Sky Merino, Montane Primino or the Rab Merino+ Underwear Ranges.
You will need clothing suitable for trekking. Light colours are recommended to help keep cool and garments with a high UPF rating are a bonus. In respect of local custom, we advise you to keep covered by wearing long shorts or pants.
We recommend The North Face Trekking Clothing Range.
Two changes of casual clothing such as lightweight trousers and shirts for use in town and while traveling.
The North Face Bones Beanie
The North Face Breeze Brimmer Sun Hat
Seirus Neofleece Combo Scarf
2.0 Head Wear
This hat can be wool, merino, Windstopper or fleece. It should extend over the ears and be snug enough not to fly off in a strong wind.
We recommend The North Face Bones or Rab Shadow Beanies
A wide brimmed soft hat or baseball cap in conjunction with a bandana to protect you from the sun, which is extremely strong at altitude.
We recommend The North Face Horizon Breeze Brimmer Sun Hat, available from our office.
You can bring a lightweight balaclava made of silk or polypropylene and/or a heavier weight option made of wool, fleece or Windstopper fabric, if this is your preference.
We recommend the Smartwool or Rab Power Stretch Balaclavas
Bandana and/or Buff
A bandana and/or Buff are a useful addition to the cap to protect the back of your neck from the sun or to cover your face on dusty trekking days.
We recommend the Buff, available from our office
Neoprene Face Mask (Optional)
Neoprene facemasks are optional but are good for protecting your face from the bitterly cold winds.
We recommend the Seirus Neofleece Combo Scarf (neck gaiter + face mask combination), the Seirus Neofleece Headliner (a balaclava + face mask combination), the Outdoor Designs Ski Mask or the Outdoor Research Windstopper Face Mask.
Neck Gaiter or Fleece Buff (Optional)
These are excellent for stopping draughts around the neck, as are balaclavas. Breathing in very cold air while climbing at altitude can precipitate the infamous Khumbu cough and a neck gaiter or balaclava, used to cover your mouth and nose, protects your throat against the cold air helping to prevent this.
Sunglasses x 2 Pairs
Preferably a "glacier" style with side protection although some wraparound glasses provide enough protection from reflected light. The lens should be dark enough to withstand the intense reflection from the snow and MUST filter 100% of UVA, B and C radiation. Snow reflects up to 85% of solar radiation and the UV index increases 10% with every 1000m gain in altitude, so it is of utmost importance you protect your eyes. We recommend a photochromic or category 4 polarized lenses with an anti-fog coating.
If you wear prescription glasses, we recommend you get prescription sunglasses with the above specifications. If you wear contact lenses, it is advisable to bring a pair of prescription glacier glasses as a backup. Leashes are essential and nose guards are optional.
We recommend Julbo, Smith, Bollé, Oakley and Adidas Sunglasses.
To reduce fogging up problems and when using goggles with oxygen, we recommend goggles that have a double lens, are oversized and fit your face well. A high-quality model is worth the extra expense to avoid problems on summit day.
If goggles are to be your primary eye protection on summit day, you should have one set with a dark and/or a polarized lens and a second set with an amber lens for low visibility.
Some climbers have reported good results with built in battery powered ‘demister’ fans in some goggles, but do ensure
you have the correct (lithium) batteries to run them. If you wear prescription glasses, ensure they fit under your goggles.
We recommend Julbo, Smith, Bollé and Oakley Goggles.
Julbo Explorer 2.0 Sunglasses
Mountain Wear Polypropylene Liner Gloves
Rab Alliance Mountaineering Gloves
3.0 Hand Wear
Like body wear, you’ll need a few combinations of gloves for a wide variety of temperatures. Layering works well, so check the various combinations work together.
Liner Gloves x 2 Pairs
These very thin, lightweight finger/liner gloves form a base layer and are worn, whenever climbing. They can be worn on hot days to protect against sunburn or under heavier gloves or mittens on colder days. Ensure a close fit to allow you to handle ropes and carabiners, as wearing these gloves will prevent cold injuries in situations requiring full finger dexterity. They can also be worn doubled up and should fit underneath your other glove combinations.
We recommend Budget Polypropylene, Black Diamond Lightweight or the Rab Stretch Knit Liner Gloves.
Fleece Gloves x 2 Pairs
Fleece finger gloves are very useful and used most of the time for protection against the cold. They can also be useful to protect your hands from sunburn on a hot day. A model with a reinforced palm is good for rope work.
We recommend The North Face Power Stretch, Black Diamond Midweight or the Rab Power Stretch Pro Gloves.
Mountaineering Gloves with Removable Liners
This glove system is very versatile, as you can wear them with or without liners, depending on temperature. A good model will have abrasion-resistant palms, shaped fingers, a waterproof outer and an insulating removable liner. Please ensure that you can fit your liner gloves underneath your mountaineering gloves. Mountaineering gloves are not as warm as expedition mitts but have the advantage of being more dexterous. Because of the time you will spend dealing with ropes and equipment, the dexterity your gloves provide will be extremely useful. Please be aware that cheaper models are not waterproof. We recommend that you attach wrist loops to these gloves to prevent them being blown away by the wind.
We recommend The North Face Vengeance, Rab Alliance or the Outdoor Research Alti Mountaineering Gloves.
Choose expedition mittens with a down or synthetic (i.e., Primaloft) fill and a Gore-Tex or similar outer. When buying mittens, it is very important to ensure your hand slides easily into the mitten when wearing your liner and fleece gloves. Wrist loops are also important to prevent your mitts blowing away in the wind.
We recommend The North Face Himalayan, Marmot Expedition and the Rab Expedition Mitts.
4.0 Foot Wear
Socks x 6 Pairs
Various combinations suit different people. You need at least 6 complete sets of your personal preference. Some people prefer to wear just one pair of socks in their boots, while others wear two; a thicker pair over a thinner one. You will need one set that will remain clean, dry and unworn for your summit bid. You will need 5 more sets to wear on the lower mountain and for when trekking in. In very cold conditions, a neoprene sock can add warmth and act as a vapour barrier to keep your inner boots from getting wet. However, be very careful with neoprene socks so that they are not too tight and constrict your circulation. You can also use Gore-Tex socks for this purpose. Oversize boots may be necessary to fit the extra bulk of these kinds of socks. We recommend testing your combinations beforehand!
We recommend Smartwool, Bridgedale and Thorlo Socks.
Take a pair of lightweight shoes or sandals, which have a good sole and can be worn when at Base Camp and travelling. It is nice to put your feet in comfortable shoes after a long day in your (sometimes smelly) trekking boots! Sandals or Crocs are useful to keep your feet off the cold floors in the evening and for use while showering in the lodges.
We recommend the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 or La Sportiva TX 4 Shoes.
The North Face Himalayan Mitts
La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX Trekking Boots
La Sportiva Olympus Mons High Altitude Mountaineering Boots
You want a soft, lightweight, comfortable pair with good ankle support and a reasonable sole for traction such as Vibram. Some people prefer a trekking shoe because they are lighter, but a boot offers much better ankle support.
We recommend the La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX, Salomon Quest 4D GTX or the Scarpa Kailash Trekking Boots.
These should be a Canvas/Cordura or Gore-Tex combination covering the top of your boots and extending to the top of your calf. Gaiters are used to keep snow and small rocks out of your boots. They need a good tie down under the boot to stop them creeping up at the heel when walking in soft snow.
We recommend the Sea to Summit Alpine or the Rab Latok Extreme Gaiters.
8000m Mountaineering Boots
Bring high-altitude mountaineering boots with an integrated gaiter and a removable liner. These are the warmest, most comfortable option available. Make sure the boot is a comfortable fit and you have extra room to wiggle your toes on cold mornings. This style of boot does not need additional overboots.
PLEASE check that your crampons can be adjusted to fit your boots. It is quite common for crampon bars or straps to be too short. Sewing on an extension to your straps simply will not suffice, so you will need to purchase longer straps that are purpose built. Some brands also require a little modification to allow ‘clip on’ crampons to work.
We recommend the La Sportiva Olympus Mons, Millet Everest, Scarpa Phantom 8000 and the Expedition 8000 Evo Rd High Altitude Mountaineering Boots.
6000m Mountaineering Boots (Optional)
You may wish to bring a lighter weight climbing boot for use on the lower mountain, where a full 8000m boot can be hot and cumbersome.
We recommend the Scarpa Phantom 6000, La Sportiva G2 SM or the La Sportiva Spantik 6000m Mountaineering Boots.
Down Bivvy Boots
Lightweight down bivvy boots or down socks are for wearing in your sleeping bag and tent. Some models come with a water-resistant material and have a reinforced sole, while others are merely a ‘sock’ made of down. The down ‘socks’ are good to keep inside your bag whereas if you wear the model with a sole, you will be tempted to wear them around outside and they can drag unmentionable detritus into your sleeping bag.
We recommend the Rab Expedition Down Slipper, Rab Hot Socks or the Rab Expedition Modular Boots.
Camp Boots (Optional)
A waterproof and insulated boot for using only at Base Camp and not for any walking or climbing. Although optional, these are highly recommended and will certainly make life at Base Camp more comfortable.
We recommend Sorel Caribou Insulated Snow Boots.
Foot Warming System (Optional)
Those who suffer from cold extremities may wish to invest in a battery powered foot-warming system for their summit bid. Heating elements warm the insoles of your boots and battery packs are either clipped onto the rear of your boot or are kept in your pocket for easy adjustment. We recommend heating systems utilising AA batteries rather than rechargeable systems for best performance in the cold and ease of powering. Be sure to bring sufficient batteries; 8-16 Li- ion AA batteries should be enough for the summit push.
We recommend the Hotronic, Therm-ic and Lenz Foot Warming Systems used with Energizer Li-Ion batteries which are lighter, more resistant to cold and last longer than Ni-MH batteries.
Rab Expedition Modular Boots
Thermi-ic 1200 Classic Foot Warming System
Osprey Talon 33 Daypack
5.0 Packs & Bags
Small Lockable Duffel Bag (30-40 Litres)
Take a small duffel (30-40 litres) or suitcase for storing clothing and items left in the city, while on the expedition.
Bring a lock for this duffel and if you’re particularly adept at losing keys, please make sure to buy combination locks and
set them to an easy to remember number!
We recommend The North Face Base Camp Duffel Range.
Large Lockable Duffel Bags x 2 (95-132 Litres)
You will need 2 large duffels which have a capacity of around 100 litres; one for your climbing equipment and another for your trekking/overnight gear, which will be transported by porters. Bring locks for these duffels too.
We recommend The North Face Base Camp Duffel Range.
Daypack (30-45 Litres)
A comfortable daypack with the approximately 30-45 litres capacity to carry your jacket, camera, water bottle and snack food is ideal.
We recommend Deuter Guide Lite 32, Lowe Alpine Alpine Ascent 32, Montane Medusa 32 and the Osprey Talon 33 Daypacks.
Mountaineering Pack (55-65 Litres)
Most of the time, you do not need a large pack as you are only carrying personal gear. However, your pack should have the versatility to cope with larger loads during the final descent, when camps are being brought down. Required features include a good expansion/compression system, a volume of 55 to 65 litres as well as crampon and ice axe attachment points. Avoid trekking style packs with bulky side pockets. This pack can also be used for the trek in.
We recommend The North Face Cobra 60, Lowe Alpine Metanoia 65:80 or the Black Diamond Mission 55 Mountaineering Packs.
6.0 Camping Gear
Down Sleeping Bags x 2 (1 x -20C/-4F and 1 x -40C/-40F)
You will need a quality down sleeping bag rated to about -20C/-4F for when at Base Camp and the trek in. You will need a second bag rated to -40C/-40F for use on the mountain. Both bags should be 800+ goose down fill, so as not to be too heavy. They should also be long enough that your feet do not press hard against the foot of the bag, as this will mean the insulation is compressed and you will lose heat quickly. They also need to have enough room for you to fit in with lots of layers on. A liner can add extra warmth and helps to keep your bag clean.
We recommend The North Face Inferno -40 and the Rab Expedition 1200 or 1400 Sleeping Bags for the mountain, and The North Face Inferno -18C or the Rab Andes 800 Sleeping Bags for use at Base Camp.
Foam Sleeping Mat
Bring a closed-cell foam, full-length sleeping mat is important to give your air mattress added insulation from the snow. These can also be used on top of the lodge mattresses, should you find them to be less than savoury and to line your duffel bag to protect its contents on the approach.
We recommend the Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOLite Foam Sleeping Mats.
Lowe Alpine Metanoia 65:80 Mountaineering Pack
The North Face Inferno -40 Sleeping Bag
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm and XTherm MAX Mattresses
Inflatable Sleeping Mat
We suggest a lightweight full-length model for use in conjunction with a foam mat for on the mountain. Bring a repair kit also in case of punctures or valve failure.
We recommend the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm or XTherm MAX and ProLite or ProLite Plus Air Mattresses.
Water Bottles x 2
Two plastic bottles with heat resistant qualities and a wide top of at least 1 litre capacity is ideal. A "camelback" type water carrying system is useful in theory but will freeze on cold mornings, even with an insulation sleeve on the tube and they are prone to damage. A couple of smaller, 500ml sized bottles are great for carrying inside your down jacket when climbing to ease hydration and prevent freezing.
We recommend Nalgene 1 Litre and 500ml Wide Mouth Bottles, available from our office.
Water Bottle Cover x 2
This will slow the freezing rate of your water.
We recommend the Outdoor Research Water Bottle Parka, Nalgene Insulated Sleeve and the Forty Below Bottle Boots.
Cup, Bowl, Spoon
Plastic Mug - An insulated mug with attached snap on lid is a great idea. Bowl - A deep 2-3 up apacity bowl.
Spoon - Lexan or other good quality lightweight plastic.
We recommend Sea to Summit and GSI Tableware and Cutlery.
Small Thermos Flask (Optional)
A small insulated vacuum flask for hot drinks, made from stainless steel and about a 500ml to 1 litre capacity.
We recommend the Primus Vacuum Flasks.
Headlamps x 2 and Spare Lithium Batteries
Headlamps are more versatile than hand torches as they allow you to keep your hands free. Bring extra batteries, including a set of lithium batteries for summit day. You should have one headlamp for Base Camp and a more powerful version for early starts or long days on the mountain.
You MUST have a fresh set of lithium batteries for your head torch for summit day (ordinary alkaline batteries are fine for other days) and we recommend that you also use them in your camera. Although they are expensive, lithium batteries will provide much longer life and are not affected by the cold. Please do not bring rechargeable batteries. They do not last well at altitude and there are limited charging facilities on the mountain.
We recommend the Petzl Myo or Actik, LED Lenser H7R.2 or SEO 7R and the Black Diamond Icon, Storm or Spot Headlamps.
Personal First Aid Kit and Medication Plus Spare
At all times, you should carry a basic first aid kit including blister tape, second skin, gauze pads, crepe bandage and painkillers (Paracetamol and Tylenol are great for altitude headaches). Include any personal medication required plus extras and be sure to inform the office and your guide, if you are on prescription medicine. Store your first aid kit in a waterproof container.
Do not forget to include a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, razor, soap and moisturizer, etc. Make sure everything liquid is in containers that don't leak or break! A personal roll of toilet paper and hand sanitizer can be very useful, especially for the trek in.
Sun Block and Lip Balm
This should be SPF 30 or higher. Waterproof sports versions will last longer as you perspire. Small tubes for the face and sticks for lips that can be carried in a pocket for fast application are best.
Baby Wipes or similar pre-moistened cloth wipes for personal hygiene. These antibacterial wipes are excellent for cleaning hands and other hygiene issues during the trek and at Base Camp. Do also pack some antiseptic hand gel.
Primus Vacuum Flask
Petzl Myo Headlamp
Leatherman Wave Multi Tool
Feel free to bring a good book, playing cards, diary and iPod etc. We recommend that you choose solid state devices such as the now obsolete iPod Nano (which we have tested up to 7,950m), as these are the most reliable. A smartphone, used in flight mode to extend battery life, can combine the functions of separate devices (camera, video, music, e-books, etc.) into one, but will require a personal sized solar panel and/or battery charging pack to keep charged throughout the expedition.
Pocket Knife/Leatherman/Tool Kit
Swiss Army Knife, Leatherman tool or equivalent. A personal repair kit for your own equipment is useful.
We recommend the Victorinox Knives and Leatherman Multi Tools.
A useful addition to your repair kit.
We have a shower at Base Camp and many, but not all of the lodges have showers on the trek into Base Camp. You can bring a specific small camp towel or a bigger beach towel.
We recommend Sea to Summit Tek and Drilite Camping Towels.
Camera and Memory Cards (Optional)
Bring along your choice of SLR or fully automatic cameras. Be aware that batteries can be a problem with cold temperatures, so it is a good idea to bring spare sets of lithium batteries. We recommend using a camera with replaceable batteries, NOT rechargeable, as this allows you to have spare fresh batteries for summit day.
Ear Plugs (Optional)
A handy way to get a night’s sleep when sharing a tent with a snorer!
Chemical Hand and Toe Warmers (Optional)
You should bring 2-3 sets of lightweight disposable chemical hand and toe warmers. Make sure they are designed for use in low oxygen environments.
We recommend Grabber Hand and Toe Warmers.
Pillow Case (Optional)
A pillow case is handy for the trek in to cover some of the lodge pillows. We will supply you with a pillow at Base Camp.
Grabber Chemical Hand and Toe Warmers
Sea to Summit Stuff Sacks
Goal Zero Sherpa 50 Solar Panel and Battery Kit
Stuff Sacks and Large Plastic Bags
Lightweight nylon stuff sacks in a variety of colours are good for sorting and storing gear. Stuff sacks can be lined with plastic bags to keep gear dry during the trek in. Use large plastic bags to line your duffel bags to protect your gear against rain storms.
We recommend Sea to Summit Stuff Sacks and Dry Bags.
Pee Bottle (1 x 1.5 Litre or 2 x 1 Litre)
This is just a water bottle with a different job. It is obviously a good idea to have a different colour and shape, so that you do not confuse them in the dark. Pee funnels are available for women to allow you to pee without exposing any bare skin to the elements, but require some practice to use successfully.
We recommend the Nalgene HDPE Wide Mouth 1.5Litre Bottle and the Sports and Travel Freshette for Women.
12 Volt Car Chargers
Our electrical system provides 12-volt power so ensure you have car chargers with cigarette lighter adaptor. Some cameras only come with wall chargers so ensure you check before you buy. It is best to get one which takes lithium AAA or AA batteries. Bring your own lithium batteries from home as local batteries are not always reliable.
Solar Panel and Battery Pack (Optional)
You may wish to bring your own solar charging system for powering your gadgets during the expedition. This is especially important if you are bringing a large array of electronic devices, as the Base Camp power supply is shared by all team members.
We recommend the Goal Zero Switch 8 or Guide 10 kits for powering USB devices (such as phones or MP3 players) or the Goal Zero Sherpa 50 kit for powering tablets, cameras or laptops.
USB Flash Drive
At the end of your expedition, there will be the opportunity to share photos with the rest of the team members. Bring a USB Flash Drive (4-8GB recommended) if you would like to take copies of the other members’ photos home with you.
You may wish to bring your own Steripen to sterilise any drinking water (your guides will also be carrying one during the trek). Please be aware that you may need to bring additional lithium batteries.
Collapsible Trekking Poles (Optional)
Collapsible trekking poles can be very useful on the trek in, especially if you get sore knees on the downhill sections.
We recommend Black Diamond or Leki Trekking Poles.
8.0 Climbing Equipment
We recommend a lightweight high-altitude ice axe with a standard pick and a length of 53 - 60 cm depending on your height. Specialist technical axes are not required. Lightweight options are preferred and remember a leash, so you do not drop your axe!
We recommend the Black Diamond Raven Pro, Petzl Glacier or Grivel G Zero Ice Axes.
Black Diamond Raven Pro Ice Axe
Grivel G12 New-Matic Crampons
Petzl Adjama Climbing Harness
Clip-on style with a toe ‘harness’ are best and do check that the set-up is secure and that the strap is long enough. Avoid technical ice climbing crampons and ensure you have ‘anti-balling’ plates on them. We recommend a new set of properly fitted crampons for this expedition. There will be a spare set in reserve at Base Camp in case of breakage. Do not cut or trim your crampon straps under any circumstances
We recommend the Petzl Vasak Leverlock Universel, Black Diamond Sabretooth Clip or the Grivel G12 New-Matic Crampons.
Climbing helmets aim to deflect falling rock/ice and protect the head in the event of a fall. Be aware that plastic becomes brittle as it ages, so your helmet should not be more than 4 years old. Composite (fibreglass/carbon fibre) helmets are also available but can be quite heavy and expensive. Check that the helmet adjusts enough to allow you to wear a warm hat underneath and a hood over the top.
We recommend the Petzl Meteor and Sirocco, or the Black Diamond Vector and Vapor Helmets.
Bring a lightweight alpine climbing harness. It must have adjustable leg loops and waist to fit over the varying clothing combinations that are worn during the expedition.
We recommend the Petzl Adjama, Luna or Aquila, the Black Diamond Aspect, Lotus or Couloir, and the Mammut Zephir Altitude Climbing Harnesses.
Bring an ATC style or small Figure 8 device for rappelling. It must be able to accommodate ropes of different thickness and for this reason, Figure 8 devices tend to be more suitable, but bring whichever style you are most familiar with.
We recommend the Petzl Huit or VERSO, and the Black Diamond ATC XP or Super 8 Belay/Rappel Devices.
Locking Carabiners x 3
Bring 3 screw gate pear-shaped carabiners. Please do not get the ball lock type, just a simple twist lock. Whatever style or brand you use, make sure you bring the type you are most familiar with and have used in very cold conditions.
We recommend the Petzl and Black Diamond Screw Gate Carabiners.
Non-locking Carabiners x 3
Bring along some lightweight non-locking carabiners.
We recommend the Petzl and Black Diamond Non-Locking Carabiners.
Mechanical Ascender x 1
Bring one mechanical ascender for climbing fixed ropes.
We recommend Petzl Ascension, Grivel A&D or Black Diamond Index Ascender.
Petzl Huit Descender
Black Diamond Index Ascender
Pieps DSP Sport Avalanche Transceiver
4m of 8mm Cord or 16mm Tape for Jumar Rigging
You will require a leash to attach your mechanical ascender to your harness. Our preference is to improvise leashes from cord or webbing. Leashes should be no longer than the distance from your tie in point to your hand on an outstretched arm, so that when you are resting on the rope you can still reach the ascender. You will also use the webbing or cord to make a lanyard. We will help all members make this up at Base Camp.
One long prusik made of 6mm cord for crevasse rescue, approximately 3.2m in length (untied).
Bring a modern 457MHZ standard or digital avalanche transceiver. Bring one that is simple to use, or that you are very familiar with its operation.
We recommend the Backcountry Access Tracker 3, Pieps DSP Sport or Ortovox Zoom+ Avalanche Transceivers.