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By the age of thirty-six, American Scott Fisher had successfully climbed the big mountains of Asia and Alaska. However, he had promised himself to conquer the second-highest mountain in the world -- might K2 of the Karakoram Range in Pakistan -- which over the years had cost 33 climbers their lives, 13 in 1986 alone. The unusual name of the mountain was coined by the British.

Fischer had decided to attempt the climb when he met another guide from Seattle, Ed Viesturs, in Kathmandu, Nepal, in May 1991. Viesturs had then just returned from a successful climb of Mount Everest. Fischer had almost reached the peak of Everest twice, but had to turn back due to bad weather or the need to rescue others. The bitterness of those defeats fuelled his desire to climb K2 despite the fact that climbers considered it the hardest peak to climb. It is also equally difficult to descend.

Arriving in Pakistan on 8 June, 1992, they began their expedition with other climbers from different parts of the world. While climbing, they noticed huge glacier ice blocks looming in dangerous positions. Their routes had to be changed accordingly because of them. As Fischer was preparing to make a long, awkward step, an ice block shifted under his foot and threw him off-balance. He plunged into a crevasse.

"Falling !" he screamed.

He became wedged between the walls of the deep crack. He felt a stab of excruciating pain in his right shoulders. His arm had been torn from its socket.

"Scott ! Scott ! Are you alright ?" Viesturs called out.

"Ed, it's my shoulder. I need help !" Fischer responded.

Sliding to the edge of the crevasse, Viesturs grabbed Fischer's jacket and harness, and pulled him to safety. By then, Fischer's shoulder was horribly swollen. The two tried to return to base camp. When the pain became unbearable for Fischer, Viesturs went by himself to get some help from other climbers. Among the six members who appeared after two hours was a doctor, Burt Stefanski. After injecting him with a painkiller, Stefanski grabbed his right wrist and pulled. With a loud crack, the arm popped back into its socket. he was then advised not to continue with the climb as it would be hazardous to his health.

For two weeks, he stayed patiently in the camp to rest while others continued with the expedition. Soon, he received the news that the expedition leader and a Russian had managed to reach the peak of K2. That spurred him to pursue his goal in spite of a wounded arm.

"Whatever it takes, I've to make it !" he told Viesturs as they resumed their climb. During the journey, they met with countless other problems. At one time, they were almost hit by an avalanche while moving to rescue others. In another instance, the mountain was struck by a fierce storm. Fighting against all odds, they struggled upwards and soon emerged into the magical world of intense blue sky. They realized they could go no further -- they had reached K2's summit. By then, another climber had caught up with them. The remarkable beauty of the mountain stunned the trio. Viesturs was so choked with emotion that the could not talk. They whooped, raised their ice tools in triumph and hugged one another. The thirty-five minutes they spent on top of K2 would be a time the three would never forget.

Getting over their celebration, they realized their next task -- the trip back tot he camp. They had to return to the camp before dark. Fischer was aware that they could not remain in the snow-ravaged peak for long without shelter. Just as they were all set to return, they were faced with another problem. The footprints they made on the snow were hardly visible. With instinct and courage, they finally managed to struggle their way back to base camp.

After fifty-three days on K2, Scott Fischer had reached his goal. He knew he had earned it !

   
Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1. From the first paragraph, how do we know that K2 is a dangerous mountain to climb ?
  2. How do you think the British coined the name K2 ?
  3. What increased Fischer's determination to climb K2 ?
  4. 'It is also equally difficult to descend.' (paragraph 2) Explain clearly the meaning of this sentence.
  5. 'He plunged into a crevasse.' (paragraph 3) Explain in your own words what had happened to Fischer.
  6. How as Fischer medically treated for his injury ?
  7. Why did Fischer become more determined to continue with the journey even with his injury ?
  8. 'Fighting against all odds ...' (paragraph 10). What were the odds the writer was referring to ?
  9. 'The footprints they made on the snow were hardly visible.' (paragraph 11) Explain why this was a problem for them.
  10. Why do you think Fischer felt that 'he had earned it' (last paragraph) ?
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Answers
 

1.

We know that K2 is a dangerous mountain to climb from the fact that 33 climbers had lost their lives, 13 of them in 1986 alone.
 

2.

'K' represents the Karakoram Range while '2' represents the second highest mountain in the world
 

3.

The fact that he could not reach the peak of Mount Everest twice increased his determination to climb K2.
 

4.

Climbing up K2 is as difficult as climbing down the mountain.
 

5.

He fell into a deep crack.
  6. A doctor gave him a painkiller and then pulled his right wrist for the arm to pop back into its socket.
  7. He heard that the leader of the expedition and a Russian had succeeded in reaching the peak of K2.
  8. They were almost hit by an avalanche and they had to brave a fierce storm.
  9. They would find it a problem to get back to the base camp as the footprints they made on the way up were supposed to guide them on their way down. / They were supposed to follow the footprints they made on the way up to return back to base camp without getting lost. / Without the footprints, they would find it difficult to find their way back to base camp.
  10. He had persevered to reach the peak in spite of all the problems he faced during the limb up. / He did not give up to reach the peak although he went through a lot of physical pain and encountered problems along the way. / He persevered ( did not give up ) although the odds were against him as he made his way up to the peak.
 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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