In the 19th and the first half of the 20th century there were only few expeditions into the Karakorum, most of them for reasons of survey and exploration rather than of climbing. However, there were some serious attempts to climb the highest mountains as soon as 1902 when Oscar Eckenstein and his team tried to climb K 2 via the Northeast Ridge. At that time, modern transportation did not exist, so it took the mountaineers an incredibly long time just to reach the foot of the mountain.
Prince Luigi Amedeo, Duke of the Abruzzi, an Italian mountaineer and explorer, led the next expedition to K 2 in 1909. His team reached a height of 6,666 m on the East Ridge which today bears his name: the standard route up the mountain follows the so-called Abruzzi Spur.
In 1937 the British climbers Eric Shipton and Bill Tilman, famous for their light-weight approach to mountaineering, teamed up for their Shaksgam expedition, exploring and mapping the northern approaches to K 2. Two years later the two climbers were back for their Karakoram Survey Expedition, during which they climbed a number of mountains but none of the really high ones.
In the 1950s more and more expeditions came to the Karakorum to try first ascents of 8000 m peaks. One after the other, the giants were climbed: Nanga Parbat in 1953 by the Austrian climber Hermann Buhl, K 2 in 1954 by Italians, Gasherbrum II in 1956 by Austrians, Broad Peak in 1957 by Austrians once again (among them Hermann Buhl), Gasherbrum I in 1958 by Americans.
In the 1960s and 1970s most climbers who came to the Karakorum were heading for the 8000m peaks, trying new routes or repeating the normal routes. At that time there were very few trekkers.
It was only in the 1980s that trekking tourism really started. At that time most trekkers went to Concordia or around Masherbrum. At that time the route was much more difficult and dangerous than it is today. Trekking has expanded over the years and today includes areas like Biafo-Hispar, Panmah, Hushe-Valley and others.
The Karakorum is famous for its high mountains and majestic scenery, and climbers and trekkers from all over the world are fascinated by the sheer grandeur of it. More than in Nepal where lodges can be found along the trekking routes, the treks in the Karakorum offer adventure and unique experiences.