Tackling 'biggest beast' of all

20:24, Jul 22 2014
chris jensen burke
STEP BY STEP: Chris Jensen Burke makes her way to the summit of Mt Everest before her latest challenge: K2.

All going to plan, Chris Jensen Burke will become the first Australasian woman to conquer K2 this week.

Timaru-born and educated, Jensen Burke has overcome most of the world's major mountaineering challenges and is set to face the "biggest beast" of them all.

Only nine women have reached the summit of the feared 8611m mountain. Three of them died on the descent.

"It's [the preparations] going really well. We are currently at K2 BC [base camp]," Jensen Burke said.

She planned to leave for Camp 1, at 6050m, yesterday.

"If all goes well we will take four to five days to reach the summit and move up one camp per day."


According to Jensen Burke's plan, she should be at Camp 2 at 6700m today and Camp 3 at 7300m tomorrow.

"In the evening of the 25th we will push for the summit at 8611m to arrive some time in the daylight on the 26th."

Jensen Burke has already conquered the highest mountain in the world, Mt Everest, in 2011.

In 2013 she climbed Lhotse and Manaslu in Nepal, and Gasherbrum in Pakistan.

Her next expedition took her to Nepal's Makalu which she successfully conquered.

And now her sights are set on K2, also known as the "savage mountain" due to the extreme difficulty of ascent and the second highest fatality rate among the 14 mountains above 8000m.

It is located on the border of northern Pakistan and China.

K2 is the highest point of the Karakoram Range and the highest point in Pakistan. It is usually climbed from the Pakistani side as Jensen Burke intends to.

Jensen Burke is pensive about her expedition.

"Logistics for mounting an expedition to climb an 8000er are often as challenging and time consuming as climbing the mountains themselves.

"My strategy includes allowing for the fact that I might not actually reach the summit on my first attempt.

"And, you know what, that really is OK. Some of the best lessons I have had have come from those expeditions where I did not reach the summit on the first attempt.

"One must remember: the mountains will always be there."

The Timaru Herald