The climbers made history as they reached the peak of what is known as the "Savage Mountain" where winds can blow at more than 200 kilometres per hour and temperatures can drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius.

FILE PHOTO: In this file photo taken on August 14, 2019, porters set up tents at the Concordia camping site in front of K2 summit (C) in the Karakoram range of Pakistan's mountain northern Gilgit region.
FILE PHOTO: In this file photo taken on August 14, 2019, porters set up tents at the Concordia camping site in front of K2 summit (C) in the Karakoram range of Pakistan's mountain northern Gilgit region. (AFP)

A team of Nepali climbers has made history after becoming the first to summit Pakistan's K2 in winter, singing their country's national anthem as they reached the top.

Dozens of mountaineers have been competing over the past few weeks to summit the world's second-highest mountain, the last peak above 8,000 metres (26,000 feet) to be topped in wintertime.

"WE DID IT," tweeted Seven Summit Treks, a trekking company leading one of the expeditions.

"The Karakorum's 'Savage Mountain' been summited in most dangerous season: winter. Nepalese climbers finally reached the summit of Mt K2 this afternoon at 17:00 local time."

The name "Savage Mountain" comes from the punishing conditions there – winds can blow at more than 200 kilometres per hour and temperatures can drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit).

Since the maiden attempt in 1987-1988, just a handful of winter expeditions have been tried on the storied 8,611-metre (28,250-foot) peak in the Karakoram range along the Chinese border.

None had got higher than 7,650 metres until Saturday, when the good conditions allowed the climbers to push ahead.

The 10 Nepali climbers had earlier been spread across different teams, but formed a new group in order to claim the feat in Nepal's name.

'Very special moment'

Despite being famed for their climbing expertise, there has never before been a Nepali climber on the first winter ascent of a peak over 8,000 metres.

One of the triumphant climbers, Nirmal Purja, who is also known as Nimsdai, described it as a "very special moment".

"The whole team waited 10m below the summit to form a group then stepped onto the summit together whilst singing our Nepalese National Anthem," wrote Purja in a social media post.

"We are proud to have been a part of history for humankind and to show that collaboration, teamwork and a positive mental attitude can push limits to what we feel might be possible."

Bravery and strength

At least one of the climbers, Mingma Gyalje Sherpa, had planned to reach the summit without using oxygen.

The news sparked joy throughout Nepal, long used to watching foreign climbers seize the records.

"For decades, Nepalis have assisted foreigners to reach the summits of the Himalayas, but we've not been getting the recognition we deserve," said renowned Nepali climber Kami Rita Sherpa, who has climbed Everest a record 24 times.

READ MORE: Rescue mission for seven climbers stranded on Pakistan peak 'soon'

"The spotlight has always been on foreign climbers. It is wonderful that today on K2 ten Nepalis have made history and shown our bravery and strength."

Nepali guides, usually ethnic Sherpas from the valleys around Everest, are considered the backbone of the climbing industry in the Himalayas for bearing huge risks to carry equipment and food, fix ropes and repair ladders.

"Sherpas are top climbers of the world, and it is a proud moment for us. But reaching the summit is only the first half. We hope now that they can all make it back down safely," warned Ang Tshering Sherpa, the former president of the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

A lonely place

One of the final technical difficulties to be overcome by the group was the dreaded "bottleneck", a narrow and steep passage where 11 people were killed in August 2008 in K2's worst known tragedy.

Many climbers have died trying to reach the summit, while others were killed on the dangerous descent.

Lockdowns and travel bans sparked by the coronavirus pandemic meant the summer climbing season last year was a bust in most of the popular climbing destinations in the region, such as Nepal.

READ MORE: Nepali becomes world’s fastest climber after scaling 14 highest peaks

With Pakistan's borders open and few other places to go, this winter an unprecedented four teams totalling around 60 climbers converged on the mountain, more than all previous expeditions put together.

Unlike Mount Everest, which has been topped by thousands of climbers young and old, K2 is a much lonelier place.

Northern Pakistan is home to some of the world's tallest mountains, including K2 in the territory of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Nestled between the western end of the Himalayas, the Hindu Kush mountains and the Karakoram range, Gilgit-Baltistan has 18 of the world's 50 highest peaks.

READ MORE: Nepalese Sherpa conquers Mount Everest for 23rd time

Source: AFP