Spanish mountaineer Sergi Mingote has died while climbing K2, the world’s second highest summit, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Saturday.
“Sad death of Sergi Mingote at K2,” Sanchez tweeted. “He wanted to continue making history by being part of the first expedition to crown this mountain in the middle of winter and a tragic accident has ended his life. A big hug for the loved ones of this great athlete.”
K2, part of the Karakoram Range that straddles the Pakistan-China border, is the second highest mountain in the world at 8,611 meters (28,251 feet).
A post on Mingote’s official Instagram account said: “Rest in peace Sergi. Today you start a new climb.”
Just a day earlier, the mountaineer had shared a post announcing that he was on day 27 of his climb and had reached 7,000 meters.
Chhang Dawa Sherpa, a Nepalese mountaineer who is leading the K2 winter expedition, said on Instagram that Mingote “suddenly fell down.”
“We [were] informed by unexpected movement on his GPS tracker and could see he made a big fall, members at the site quickly confirmed the accident, but couldn’t do much to help him anymore,” Sherpa said.
A ‘Savage Mountain’
K2 is located within the Karakoram Range, home to the greatest concentration of high mountains in the world.
The peak is renowned among mountaineers for its difficulty and has been bestowed the moniker “Savage Mountain” as an ode to its unforgiving nature.
Compared to the more than 4,000 people that have climbed Mount Everest – the world’s tallest mountain at 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) – only 350 people had stood on K2’s peak as of 2018 since it was first topped in 1954.
While few have summited K2, at least 77 people have died attempting the climb.
A team of 10 Nepali climbers on Saturday reached the top of K2 – marking the first time the summit has been climbed during the winter seasons, according to the expedition organizer Seven Summit Treks.
K2 was the only mountain over 8,000 meters that had not been summited in winter.
“The impossible is made possible,” Nepali mountaineer Nirmal Purja, an ex-British Special Forces soldier, said on his official Instagram account after he and his team accomplished the rare feat. “History made for mankind. History made for Nepal,” he wrote.
“We are proud to have been a part of history for mankind and to show that collaboration, teamwork and a positive mental attitude can push limits to what we feel might be possible,” Purja said.
Sugam Pokharel and Rory Smith contributed to this report.