First American Woman Vanessa O’Brien Summits K2

Spencer Miller |
K2 standing in all of its might. Photo courtesy of Northern Areas of Pakistan.  

Acclaimed mountaineer Vanessa O’Brien adds one more notch to the belt after becoming the first American woman to summit K2 on Friday, July 28th.  She has already conquered the seven summits (and holds the record for the fastest female time), ascending the highest mountain on each continent, including Everest.

But “K2 fascinates me because while it is not quite as high as Everest, it is technically more challenging with exposed rock, steeper terrain and higher avalanche risk,” she said in an interview with Forbes.  Statistics would agree with this statement, as K2 saw a 26% death rate, sixfold compared to Everest, which was 4.14%, according to, a Himalayan climbing database.

Photo courtesy of VOBonline.

On her first attempt at K2, foul weather turned her back.  The second time around, an avalanche buried all of the group’s gear.  Finally, the third try would be the 52-year old former banker’s ticket, allowing a safe passage to the top to plant that American flag; while bolstering a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat (out of irony, as she is challenging Trump’s stance on climate change as an activist herself).  A British flag would also be procured, as she is a dual citizen and took a second snap at the top with the UK banner.

O’Brien is the 19th woman to make it to the top of K2, but this feat nevertheless stands out among any alpine climber.  

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