Alpenglow Expeditions Rapid Ascent™ climbs are an entirely new way to approach big-mountain expeditions. After 15 years of guiding expeditions all over the world, including more than a dozen 8,000-meter peak expeditions, we have refined and distilled the acclimatization and climbing process to maximize safety, health, success, and enjoyment.
The Perfect Karakoram 8,000m Peak
There are a few reason why Gasherbrum II is the perfect 8,000m peak to climb in the Karakoram Range. To start, the 8,034m, 26,362′ peak is considered the most tame of the 8,000m peaks that make their home in the Karakoram, being of reasonable difficulty with limited objective dangers. The second, is that it offers an incredible climbing experience in one of the most remote and rugged mountain ranges in the world in a short time-frame. Using our Rapid Ascent™ technique, we’ll be able to complete the full expedition in almost half the time that it would take a typical expedition. Our 32 Day Itinerary is built to maximize the chances of success while minimizing the time spent away from family and work.
Expedition Leader – Esteban “Topo” Mena
The Gasherbrum II Rapid Ascent Expedition is organized and led by IFMGA Guide, Esteban “Topo” Mena. Topo is an extremely talented high-altitude mountain guide, having made ten 8,000m summits. He has summited Everest four times, once without supplemental oxygen, and in 2019 he summited K2 alongside Alpenglow Expeditions Founder Adrian Ballinger and fellow Alpenglow guide Carla Perez. Topo has extensive experience organizing complicated logistics for high altitude teams, and has spent countless hours on the mountain rope-fixing with Sherpa, guiding members, and assisting and organizing rescues.
Alpenglow Expeditions offers a small team, low ratio, high-end approach to 8,000 meter peak guiding. We are also the leader in offering Rapid Ascent™ trips to 8,000 meter peaks, utilizing pre-acclimatization and more Sherpa and guide support than anyone else in the industry. This allows you to climb and summit Gasherbrum II quickly and safely.
The Alpenglow Difference
Rapid Ascent™ Strategy
First developed by Adrian Ballinger, Rapid Ascent™ is a unique approach to climbing big mountains across the world. This innovative program combines hypoxic training at home with precise logistics and small team sizes to reduce the overall time spent away from home, all while greatly increasing the chance of success on your international climbing expedition. By pre-acclimatizing for 6 weeks at home, we’re able to reduce the overall expedition time. It is due to this pre-acclimatization that we are able to move relatively quickly through the Karakoram to base camp with no ill effects.
1:3 maximum guide to climber ratio
All guides are IFMGA qualified or aspirants working towards finishing their certification. We guarantee our guides are the best in the business, drawing upon years spent guiding in the mountains to give you the best and safest experience possible.
3:2 Sherpa to climber ratio
Having three Sherpa per every two climbers ensures we have the strength necessary to carry loads, set camps, and assist climbers. All of our Sherpa on Gasherbrum II have worked with us on many expeditions.
Expedition doctor on call
Dr. Monica Piris, has been on fourteen 8,000-meter peak expeditions. She is in daily communication with our teams during the entirety of the expedition and is available for client consultation at any time.
Swiss weather forecasts
Having a quality forecast for Gasherbrum II maximizes both our safety and our summit success. These weather forecasts were originally developed for aircraft traveling at the altitudes that we climb at.
4 bottles of oxygen per climber
This allows us to use high-flow oxygen moving from C2 to C3 , sleeping at Camp 3, and our summit bid day. The use of supplemental oxygen maximizing safety and success. Our Sherpa also climb and sleep on oxygen, which means they have more strength to focus on you and your ascent.
Imported and local foods of the highest quality, combined with a Western-trained cook staff; Alpenglow has the best food on the mountain, ensuring your strength and health throughout the expedition.
Unlimited WiFi internet in Base Camp
We understand the modern need for technology, and this allows you to stay in touch with home and office via email, text message, and phone at no additional expense.
The Karakoram is one of the most remote and stunning mountain ranges in the world, holding the highest concentration of 7,000m+ peaks on the planet. Our journey to the summit of Gasherbrum II will start by traveling from Islamabad to the small village of Askoli, where we will begin our six day trek to G2 Base Camp. Trekking along the mighty Baltoro Glacier into the heart of the Karakoram, we’ll hike for several days until we reach the confluence of the Baltoro and Godwin Austin Glaciers. This is where the magnitude of the Karakoram will set in, with spectacular views of Broad Peak and K2 to the north, and the Gasherbrum group laying straight ahead. From here we’ll make our way to the southeast end of the valley and to G2 Base Camp at 16,900’ (5,150m). Our pre-acclimatization will enable us to move quickly to base camp, preserving time and energy for the climb ahead.
After a few days of rest and acclimatization at base camp, we’ll make our way through the Icefall to the foot of G2 and C1 (19,500’, 5,950m). We’ll start our acclimatization rotation with two days of rest at C1 before following the fixed lines up the steep snow and ice slope of the Southwest Ridge to C2. Placed on a sheltered ledge at 21,100’ (6,450m), we’ll spend two nights acclimatizing at C2 before we’ll be ready to descend back to base camp over the next few days.
Having completed our acclimatization rotation up to C2, we’ll spend one day resting in base camp before we start back up the mountain and begin our summit push. The first day will see us back at C1 after having moved once more through the Icefall. The next morning we’ll work our way back up the “Banana Ridge” on the Southwest Ridge of Gasherbrum II to C2. From here on out we’ll be using supplemental oxygen, as we ascend the fixed lines to camp 3. Nestled on a shoulder beneath the summit pyramid at 23,100′ (7,050m), C3 will be the highest camp that we’ll utilize on the climb. We’ll start our summit bid by passing the rarely used C4 and making the “Diagonal Traverse” beneath the summit pyramid. Once the traverse is completed we’ll make our way up a beautiful snow slope to the summit of Gasherbrum II at 8,035m, 26,361’.
After a short celebration atop the 13th tallest peak in the world we’ll start our descent, making our way all the way back down to C1 that same day. One last trip through the Icefall will mark the end of the climb as we return to base camp to celebrate our successful summit of Gasherbrum II. We will plan on trekking back out through the Karakoram, soaking in our last views of the mountains before heading home. If possible, we will be taking a helicopter from G2 base camp back to Skardu, but this will vary year to year depending on the Pakistani military’s regulations.