The Deadliest Day on K2 Mountain

Looking back on the day 29 mountaineers headed for the top of the world's second-highest peak.
9:09 | 04/18/14

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Transcript for The Deadliest Day on K2 Mountain
Tonight we bring you a story of dedication and love. A newlywed couple embarks on the adventure of a lifetime to scale K 2 together. A mountain thousand have tried to conquer and some have died while trying. This morning, tragedy struck nearby when a ferocious avalanche killed at least 12 people on Mt. Everest. So what happens when an epic adventure turns into a fight for survival? ♪ you couldn't have asked for a better day in a million years. And only on K 2 does a perfect summit day become a deadly day. Reporter: On a good day this mountain kills one out of every four climbers. It doesn't take for much to go wrong to be catastrophic. These men and women knew those odd when they posed for this picture. And then tried for the summit. If you do fall, you release, okay. It is our lives too, okay. What they didn't know they would all soon be victim to the worst day on one of the world's deadliest mountains. 29 would go up, only 18 would return. Release the rope! On this expedition there is no deeper partnership than Cecily and Ralph, married a year. The first woman ever to climb the highest peaks on seven continents and had a hard time finding boyfriend who could keep up. Until she met Ralph. One of mountaineering's most adored couples, soul mates not just in love with extreme adventure what with each other. They had tried K 2 once before but turned back in bad weather. This time even under blue skies, the mountain provide constant reminders of the risk. Safely to get up through here. To just get there they fly deep into northern Pakistan, after hours and spine rattling jeeps and an eight-day hike they finally get a glimpse in person. Just the sight of it fills their blood with excitement and dread. . One of the mountaineering teams that converged on k-2 that day, six Summers ago. Tomorrow is going to be a tough day. The bottleneck looks scary. With camera rolling, he got to know the Koreans and Spaniards, Dutch and Nepalese and American, dashing doctor and climber from Colorado. Why I go and try to climb high peaks is that you learn things about yourself. You, you, deepen friendships. Just outside of base camp another reminder. Dozens of hammered tin memorials scattered with the remains of fallen climbers dashed to pieces. It skae it scares no one from the task at hand testing on walls of ice and rock. How are you feeling? Tired. Very tired. Reporter: The air so thin, oxygen so scarce, the brain fogs. The muscles chill. When you go up, your muscle tells you, you need to breathe, or you have to stop. Exactly. Reporter: They spend months on K 2 acclimating to the altitude. Waiting for the weather to clear and finally blue skies. No wind. Time to go. They know that they have 18 hours to make it up and back before their bodies shut down from lack of oxygen. But so many climbers create a traffic jam on a treacherous stretch called the Frederick and Eric realize there is no way to make the summit before dark. We are really late. I don't know what we are going to do. Hearts broken they turn back and they're in camp when they hear a scream. What's happening? A Serbian climber named wren unclips from a safety rope to help Cecily with the load, and falls, plummets 600 feet smashing into the rocks. He has died. They quickly have a plan to lower his body back to camp. Okay. Frederick puts the camera in his pocket, but doesn't realize it is recording as a Pakistani porter falls and nearly pulls them all down with him. Release the rope. Release the rope. Release the rope. Then he just -- he just loses the grip on the rope. Jesus Christ. And start falling down. What the hell is this? One guy died! I came up here to help you guys. Eh. Let's go down. In the bottleneck, the others have no idea who are dead. And Ralph is feeling weak in the thin air. Not a great day today. Hard day for me today. Reporter: They know that pressing on means a descent in the dark, a dangerous gamble. Still they push until Ralph can go no further. I gave him my oxygen. Felt he would feel belter. He doesn't. And encourages his wife to go on without him. She makes it to the summit with another Norwegian before sunset. It was fantastic. We could see that shape of K 2, the shadow up. We could see so far into China. It was -- it was no wind. The sun was still up. A Dutch climber its also among the 14 who make the summit. He calls his wife with joy. After a lifetime of dreaming and a year of training, they're all giddy. But it is almost dark and they only have a few hours to get back to camp. And precious oxygen. But first they must rappel under a massive icy overhang which breaks loose on their way down. I don't think I heard it. But -- but I felt it. The falling ice sweeps her beloved husband off the mountain and cuts all their safety ropes. In a days, cecely some how picks her way down in the dark holding off hope that Ralph has survived. Of course he has gone to the tent. He is in the tent. But he wasn't in the tent. The third victim of a tragedy just beginning. Those left on the top have a grim choice. Either spend the night freezing and gasping in the dangerously thin air, or try to make it down in the dark without any ropes. There is nothing. No rope anchor, no nothing. Most of the climbers are not as skilled. French grandfather, Hugh is so weak, his mind so foggy, he falls without a scream or a shout. Another avalanches takes Gerard McDonald hours after he called his girlfriend from the top. Six others simply disappear into cracks and crevices. Spending a third night. I am not sure if I can get down without oxygen, you know. More than 48 hours after the summit push began. They're ready to give up. When miraculously -- two climbers, wand near camp on frost bitten feet. How many victims are there? 11. 11 people. Mr. Park. Mr. Wong. No. He's dead. The hobbled survivors are lifted off. Journalist's book, no way down, offers the most comprehen siesive account of the expedition. I think it touches people's lives. They're exploring nature. They're exploring themselves. I am very glad there are people look these people I got to know doing what they do. I think it is pushing forward boundaries for all of us. I hate k-2. I hate that mountain. I just -- I love a very, very small part of it. Reporter: Her husband buried at the base of a mountain. With no regard for love or loss. ♪ Sail away with me ♪ Our thanks to graham Bali. No way down is available in

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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