K2 1978

The Savage Mountain

Joe was invited to join a Chris Bonington led expedition to K2 in 1978 which had a budget of £50,000. This was Joe’s introduction to the world of big expeditions and “marked the end of a naïve attitude to climbing mountains” (Savage Arena). It entailed seeking sponsorship and courting publicity on a scale Joe was unaccustomed to. He was assigned to assist with the organisation of the equipment, as well as being part of the climbing team.

The route chosen was the unclimbed West Ridge of the mountain, to be climbed without oxygen, although very limited supplies were taken as a contingency as no one had tackled such a difficult and high route without oxygen before. Joe said that the approach into K2 was “as hard as anything I have come across which is not actually climbing” (Savage Arena) and 300 porters were recruited to carry all the gear required. The snow was fresh and very deep on the mountain and progress was slow. Days into the climb, an avalanche swept Nick Estcourt to his death. After discussions between the team the expedition was abandoned.