's 2015 Horror Write-off:

" K2 "

Submitted by Rahkshasarani

 David Mendez, Paul Tassel, and Dana Holt attempted to climb the dangerous north ridge of K2 on August 12th, 2000. Three months later, all three would be dead under mysterious circumstances.

The trio were moderately experienced mountaineers, but many experts agree that they were woefully under prepared to mount a climb of K2’s most difficult face.

The trio were childhood friends from Minnesota and were undertaking the climb to celebrate Tassel’s 26th birthday. They attempted it during an off season when there were no other groups in the base camp. According to a plan left on-site, the idea was to scale the mountain to the Eagle’s Nest camp 29,000 feet above sea level and then proceed to the summit across a glacier.

The journey went wrong almost immediately. A surplus cache of food was found torn open before the journey. Restoring the cache meant that the climb did not get underway until much later in the afternoon. Paul kept a detailed list of each mishap as they happened. The entry for the second day consists of only two words: "—“iceman found."”

The diary details photos taken with a digital camera, presumably lost along the journey. The iceman was described as having leathery yellow skin and a fur pouch as his only covering. There was a cleft in his skull that was most likely a blow from an axe. The body’s features were heavily tattooed with indigo and contorted in a scream of anger or fear. The men posed with the iceman for a few photos and then left a red flag with the body for later identification. They then set out for the Eagle’s Nest.

At most, the journey from base camp to the secondary camp should have taken three days in good weather. The climbers traveled for three weeks according to the dates in Tassel's journal. Japanese climbers had erected a fixed-rope system in 1990 for easier travel to the summit. The trio never found it. At various points, the climbers would attempt to descend only to be overcome with vertigo and wind up ascending again. As to how they survived for such a length of time when they had only planned supplies for a few days at most, Paul wrote that they had left a cache next to the iceman alcove that they rediscovered after a few day’s travel. And after a few more days travel, they discovered it again. The cache was completely renewed with each subsequent re-discovery, a rip that Tassel had accidentally made in the wrapper of a food package reappeared without fail.

At one point, Mendez had become frustrated and rolled the iceman down the mountainside, in the process he gained a scratch from the corpse that quickly became infected. By the time the climbers finally reached the Eagle’s Nest, Mendez was delirious. since the renewing cache had been passed by, the men were becoming weak with lack of food. The trouble did not stop even after they reached the camp: as they pitched their tents a late summer blizzard blew up. They attempted to sit it out for three days and convened in a single tent to share warmth and tend to Mendez, whose wound had gone septic.

At one point Mendez rose and expressed relief that the storm had ended, and exited the tent laughing. The other two climbers, clearly seeing the blizzard continue unabated, attempted to catch Mendez, who was stripping off his clothes and exclaiming how good the sun felt on his skin. Mendez dashed out into the blizzard, and the other two decided against following him.

The blizzard cleared up after an hour. In the search for Mendez afterwards, Tassel and Holt split up briefly to cover more ground. Tassel searched on his own for only a few minutes before nearly being flattened by Holt, who was fleeing. Tassel asked what his source of distress was. Holt said that he had been searching when he came upon a cluster of rocks he felt compelled to stare at. After a few moments he realized that there was a figure lying on the rocks the exact shade and texture of the rocks themselves. He had found this inexplicably terrifying and fled.

Holt and Tassel decided to press on, rather than risk the journey down the mountainside. They reached the glacier and Holt attempted to secure a rope path with the use of ski poles to steady himself. Tassel described looking down to secure a strap—and then hearing a scream that went on for half an hour. Tassel got as close to the edge as he dared, but could not see evidence of where Holt had fallen past.

Now alone, Tassel struggled on to the peak. At one point he found himself traveling a path where he had no idea of whether he was ascending or descending. He only knew that when he came upon a group of hooded figures, he screamed.

The Swedish climbing team HTV had only just achieved the summit when Tassel ran into them. Tassel had grown a full beard and had prolonged windburn, making his appearance that of a wild mountain man. Needless to say, they were equally surprised to see Tassel.

The Swedes got over their shock and attempted to give first aid to Tassel, who was trying to blurt out his entire story at once. HTV, after making their summit, built a sledge to carry Tassel down the mountain. As they passed out of the death zone, Tassel became delirious and finally fell silent. By the time the climbers reached base camp, Tassel had died. Autopsy revealed he may not have told the whole story, as human tissue was found in his stomach.

Two further points of mystery remain:

One: that Tassel had claimed not to have had food for the final, surreal leg of the journey, yet the meat was only barely digested.

Two: that the meat matched the DNA of neither Dana Mendez or David Holt