The government of Pakistan has given an American group permission to climb K-2, the world's second-highest mountain, located in the Karakorum Range of the Himalayas, next year.
The expedition will be the second led by Jim Whittaker, 47, of Seattle, who scaled the 28,741 feet of rocks, snow and ice with a U.S. group in 1975. Whittaker, the owner of a mountaineering equipment company, was the first American to climb Mt. Everest.
The Pakistani government's approval for the climb ends a dispute between Whittaker's group and another American group headed by Robert Craig and James Morrissey seeking permission to climb K-2 British and French teams had also sought approval.
The American Alpine Club had endorsed the Craig-Morrissey group because, a spokesman said, Whittaker's 1975 expedition "was not an over-whelming credit to American mountaineering." Some thought the trip was poorly managed and its $250,000 cost was extravagant, he said.
Although the AAC's endorsement is welcomed, it is not a decisive factor in winning approval for a climb.
The Pakistani government allows only one expedition annually since hundreds of porters have to be hired and they are drawn from the ranks of Baltistani farmers. Since expeditions take up two to three months, the primitive agriculture would be set back if more than one expedition requiring the farmers were permitted.
Only seven of a projected 18 team members have been selected so far, including Whitaker's wife, Dianne Roberts, and Dr. Chris Chandler and Vashon Island who participated in the climb of the 29,028-foot Mt. Everest last year.
Everest is only two rope lengths (300 feet) higher than K-2 and is not considered as difficult to scale.
Whittaker is reportedly considering flying the climbers to Skardu, the final stop before the ascent, and using the roughly 400 porters bearing equipment for only the low-altitude ascent. The mountaineers will carry their own equipment in the high-altitude areas.