Taiwanese prep to challenge K2

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Apr 21, 2019 - Page 11

Two mountaineers are soon to embark on a journey to try to become the first Taiwanese to conquer the summit of K2, formally called Mount Godwin-Austen or Chhogori.

Located on the China-Pakistan border, K2 is the second-highest mountain in the world after Mount Everest at a height of 8.6km above sea level.

K2 is also known for its difficulty, and according to the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation, it has the second-highest fatality rate among the 14 mountains that are more than 8km high.

If successful, 31-year-old Chang Yuan-chih and 36-year-old Lu Chung-han would write a new chapter for Taiwan’s mountaineering community.

The last time a team from Taiwan attempted to reach the K2 summit was in 2000, but the challenge was foiled at 5.8km due to changing weather and the difficulty of the terrain.

No Taiwanese has ever succeeded in reaching the K2 summit, Chang said, adding that he and Lu are hoping to gain an experience they can share with the people of Taiwan.

“Climbing the site has been a life-long dream,” Lu told reporters in an interview.

Lu is a junior-high school teacher, while his partner works as a hiking guide. The two teamed up in 2014, when they climbed Broad Peak, the 12th-highest mountain in the world at 8km.

The two are to take on K2 in the summer, as most people attempt the ascent when the weather is warmer.

K2 is relatively unknown to the average Taiwanese, cultural commentator Chan Wei-hsiung said.

Lu and Chang said that they met Chan last year while hiking mountains in Taitung County, and Chan decided to help them with their pursuit.

Regardless of whether they succeed in reaching the summit, the important thing is be that they can help open the eyes of Taiwanese to the fascinating place, Chan said.

Lu and Chang launched a fundraising campaign that Chan helped get going.

The campaign titled “K2 Project Chang Yuan-chih and Lu Chung-han eight-thousanders challenge,” which started on Thursday, had raised NT$1.86 million (US$60,307) as of 9pm last night, exceeding their goal of NT$861,100, according to the campaign Web page at www.zeczec.com/projects/k2-project-x.

The pair estimated that the expedition would cost NT$4 million.

The campaign is backed by many well-respected names in the nation’s cultural community, including the Big Issue Taiwan editor-in-chief Fines Lee, members of the punk-rock band Fire EX and Minister of Culture Cheng Li-chiun.

The two mountaineers left for Nepal on Tuesday last week to hike Makalu at 8.5km as a warm-up before returning home and preparing to take on K2 in about mid-June, Chan said.