This was Joe’s second attempt on K2, this time with a smaller team of Pete Boardman, Doug Scott and Dick Renshaw.
K2 is the second highest mountain in the world at 8,611m. There are no easy routes on K2 and its climbing history (14 previous expeditions) is interspersed with stories of avalanche, frostbite, desperate retreat and tragedy. Joe himself had been on the unsuccessful and tragic 1978 British expedition in which Nick Estcourt was swept away by an avalanche.
The 1980 expedition was an alpine style, low cost attempt, the budget limited to £15,000. In fact this was at least half the size of any other earlier expeditions to K2. During the expedition Joe, Pete and Dick were buried in their tent (Joe twice) by avalanches at 26,500 ft and unbelievably were saved from a 10,000 ft drop by tent fabric! Despite repeated attempts to reach the summit in atrocious weather conditions the climbers had to eventually retreat. “We had done everything we possibly could to climb this mountain; we had pushed ourselves to the limit and possibly stayed at it for longer than was sensible.” (Joe Tasker in Savage Arena). All four returned safely.