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Celebrating 125 years of epic photography

By: Catie Leary on Sept. 28, 2013, 9:45 a.m.
Climbers traverse snowy mountains in China

Photo: Ralf Dujmovits/National Geographic

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China, 2011

Buffeted by stinging blasts of K2's wind-driven snow, Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner checks the ropes the team has spent weeks fixing along the entire route, which consists of 9,000 feet of rope in all.

Located on the border of China and Pakistan, K2 is the second-highest mountain after Mount Everest. It's also considered one of the most difficult and dangerous ascents — for every four people who have reached the summit, one person has died trying.