A CLIMBER from Kyrgyzstan has disappeared on the world's second highest mountain K2 amid celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of its conquest, a tour operator said today.
Alexander Gubaev has been missing on the treacherous 8611-metre peak for seven days and is presumed dead, Adventure Tours Pakistan manager Abdullah Khan said in Pakistan's far northern town of Skardu.
Skardu lies in a high-altitude desert 300 kilometres north-east of Islamabad, and is the starting point for the seven-day trek to the K2 base camp.
"His body is still missing, which means either he has fallen through a crevasse or is buried beneath an avalanche," Mr Khan told AFP.
"Going missing for seven days on K2 means certain death."
K2 has been nicknamed 'savage mountain', 'killer mountain', and 'mountain of mountains' for its high fatality rate.
More summit-makers have died on descent of K2 than on any other mountain, according to the Adventurestats.com website which documents mountaineering feats.
Mr Gubaev would be the fourth fatality on K2 in its golden jubilee season. Three South Koreans were killed in an avalanche as they ascended its sheer icy slopes in June.
A record number of climbers - 43 - reached the summit of K2 last week ahead of the July 31 conquest anniversary.
They included a series of record-smashing feats that saw the oldest man ever to stand on K2, Spain's 65-year-old Carlos Soria; the first Chinese, Colombian and Romanian climbers to scale the mountain, and only the sixth woman ever.
Spain's Edurne Pasaban, 31, has become the only living female summit-maker of K2. Three of her predecessors died on descent of K2 and the two others died on other 8000 metre giants in Nepal.
K2, known in local language as Chogori or 'King of Mountains', lies on a remote uninhabited stretch of the Pakistan-China border, amid the biggest concentration of glaciers outside the North and South Poles.
It has a fatality rate (ratio of summit-makers to deaths) of 27 per cent, three times that of the world's highest mountain Everest.
Italian climbers Achille Compagnoni and Lino Lacedelli first scaled K2 at sunset on July 31, 1954.