A detailed imaging of K2 has helped Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner plan the route on the north side of K2. She has gathered the data from it to plan exactly where she wants to go up this route.
German Aerospace Centre (Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) has the technology that enables detailed mapping from space of the earth’s topography. They have created a detailed 3D map of K2 down to 1m. By creating such a map it enables them to test out their technology.
K2 though does pose a challenge even for this technology. The mixture of steepness, rock, ice and snow means that it is difficult to create a detailed 3D model of the mountain.
Expedition leader Ralf Dujmovits agrees that this has helped them plan the route beforehand rather than by visual inspection while climbing. It has proved important to them because Kaltenbrunner has not been up this side of the mountain before. “After the virtual exploration of our planned ascent, we have a fairly clear idea of which route we will take,” adds Dujmovits.
“There are very few flat spots for the bivouac tents on the otherwise continuously steep rock and ice buttresses, and there are narrow ice channels running laterally across the rocks that offer slightly easier ascent options. All of these details would otherwise have had to be investigated on site through arduous climbing,” says Dujmovits.
There is also a flash video simulation where one can see K2 from various angles. It is like a Google Earth fly through.