OverviewThe South-South-east Spur Route on K2 is more technical and steeper than the normal route (Abruzzi Spur Route) but is less prone to rockfall and has fewer climbers on it. The base of the route is exposed to avalanches from the hanging seracs above, but the route from Camp I to the shoulder (Camp IV; 8000 meters) is relatively sheltered from these, making the route relatively safe (no route is truly safe on K2). The route is situated only 45 minutes from Base Camp as opposed to the two hours it takes to reach the base of the Abruzzi Spur, and after acclimatizing at Camp I, climbers can go directly from Base Camp to Camp II on the route, making the weather window needed to summit shorter.
Getting ThereThe route is situated on the South-Southeast Spur which is one ridge over from the Southeast Ridge(Abruzzi Spur). From Base Camp, head in the same direction as you would if climbing on the Abruzzi Spur, and once past the Avalanche debris, head north toward the right side of the base of the ridge. Important Note Be sure to stay clear of the Avalanche washout as this area is swept by enormous avalanches, even quite early in the morning. Head over toward the ridge after passing the snowfield, and begin the route in the rocky section to the right of the snow slope.
Route DescriptionBase Camp to Camp I
The route is relatively easy up to Camp I. This portion of the route should be completed quite early in the morning, as the base is frequently swept by avalanches and the upper portion is frequented by loose snow avalanches during the afternoon. Camp I is situated in a rocky outcrop in the ridge and has room for only two two-man tents (one on an upper platform, and one behind the outcrop on a lower platform). This camp is generally only used to acclimatize and cache gear for higher camps and is removed before the summit bid or kept for emergency use.
Camp I to Camp II
The route from Camp I begins on a rocky section in a direct line from Camp I and continues on a snow slope to the right of the rocks to a steep exposed section, where it is necessary to traverse to reach the chimneys of rock and ice that one must climb to access camp II. Camp II is located at the end of the snow slope above these chimneys and is sheltered from wind and avalanches by an enormous rock. Tents at this camp must be secured to the rock or old fixed ropes left by other expeditions. Again, this camp has limited space, with room for a maximum of six tents.
Camp II to Camp III
The route begins to the left of the rock sheltering Camp II and continues in a straight line until reaching a dead end, where you must traverse to the left and head around the rocks up the snow slope to a steep section of rock and ice. After reaching a gap in the rocks, continue around the corner and up the slope of rock and ice till you reach a snowfield. Head up to the left where you will reach a ridge that you must traverse (past two destroyed tents). After crossing the snowfield, continue up following the old fixed lines to a ridge that heads around the seracs. Camp III is situated just below a mixed section of rock and ice.
Camp III to Camp IV
The route from Camp III to Camp IV is relatively straight forward. Climbers head up mixed terrain to the Shoulder, where the route meets up with the Abruzzi Spur. It is very important to mark the route from the top of the fixed ropes to Camp IV, as it is quite easy for exhausted climbers to head down toward the Abruzzi Spur instead.
Camp IV to the Summit
This part of the route is the same as the route for the Abruzzi Spur. One must head up to the bottleneck, traverse under the hanging serac, and continue up the final summit ridge to the summit.
Essential GearRock Pitons, Ice Screws, Ascenders and Lightweight Fixed line, as well as Ice tools are needed for this route in addition to normal expedition gear
External LinksDaily Dispatches from my expedition on the South-South-East Spur in 2008 with photos detailing the route from start to finish. Nick Rice's K2 Dispatches
Just posted a photo album showing the route all the way up to the bottleneck on the South-Southeast Spur. Hope everyone enjoys :)