HE has returned in triumph after conquering one of the world’s deadliest peaks.
Having already reached the summit of Everest, Adrian Hayes has added K2 to his list of achievements – a year after abandoning an earlier attempt following the deaths of two fellow climbers.
The Hampshire-born adventurer went back to K2 earlier this year to take care of what he described as “unfinished business”.
Now the father of two has become the first Briton and only the third person to have reached the summit of the world’s highest two mountains and both the North and South Poles.
He has also become only the eighth Briton to climb K2 itself.
The notorious mountain kills one in four people who try to reach its 8,600-metre summit.
Prone to range of deadly hazards including avalanches, extreme cold and falling rocks, it is one of the dangerous peaks in the world.
In 2008 an ice-sheet collapsed, killing 11 people in one of the worst climbing disasters.
Last year two climbers ahead of Adrian were killed in an avalanche, forcing him to abandon his own attempt to reach the top.
But he vowed to return, having already completed a range of other death-defying expeditions including a 1,500km trek across the Arabian Desert.
Speaking earlier this year he said: “I’d never forgive myself if 2014 saw a successful summit push and I was back home in the New Forest running through the woods.”
Adrian and fellow climber Al Hancock were blessed by an almost unprecedented spell of good weather that lasted ten days.
Adrian said: “Everest is brutally high and K2 is only 200 metres shorter.
“But it’s the sustained steepness that hits everyone – there’s no respite between the advanced base camp and the summit. It certainly deserves its reputation as the hardest mountain to climb.”
Adrian’s expedition coincided with the 60th anniversary of the first-ever summit of K2 in 1954.
The final stage of the climb took six days but he and Al spent a total of seven weeks on the mountain, which lies on the border between China and north Pakistan.
“Standing on the summit was a surreal experience – you tend to suffer from sensory overload,”
he said. Having completed the climb I was exhausted both mentally and physically.”
Adrian now plans to spend six weeks at his mother’s house in Netley Marsh before returning to his home in Dubai.
Adrian will be giving a talk to Royal Geographical Society in London on September 9. Tickets are available at adrianhayes.com.