Mountaineer's spectacular achievement goes unnoticed: Last month Jonathan Pratt became the first Briton to climb K2 and survive. But no one paid any attention, writes Will Bennett

THE TRIUMPH of Rebecca Stephens, who in May became the first British woman to reach the top of Mount Everest, received massive media coverage. Yet the spectacular achievement of Jonathan Pratt has been virtually ignored.

While Miss Stephens returned to shake hands with the Prime Minister and face dozens of cameras at a press conference, Mr Pratt went off alone to stay with friends in India after becoming the first Briton to climb K2 and survive.

K2 is the world's second highest mountain, 28,250ft (8,828m) high and just 800ft (250m) lower than Everest. It is far harder to climb and the appalling weather around it has earned it the nickname 'the pyramid of storms'.

In September, Mr Pratt, 34, from Shenfield, Essex, succeeded where many have failed and some have died. He and Dan Mazur, 32, an American who lives in Kent, made it to the top without oxygen and following the difficult west ridge route.

The only previous Britons to scale K2, in the Karakoram range on the Chinese-Pakistani border, were Alan Rouse and Julie Tullis, who died on the way down in 1986.

That tragedy attracted as much publicity as Miss Stephens' success. Mr Pratt's climb received two brief mentions in national newspapers and is regarded with scepticism by some members of the British mountaineering establishment. Some of the latter privately question whether he really got to the top.

Those who know the wiry, tough and ferociously determined mining engineer have no doubt that he did. He is uninterested in glory and lives for climbing.

Mr Mazur, back in England, said yesterday: 'We are not interested in seeing our names in lights, we just like to climb. The lack of publicity has been largely due to the fact that we are climbers rather than promoters.

'Obviously it is difficult to prove that we got to the summit. Mostly you do this by giving accounts of the route to those who have already been there. We took some photographs but it was night when we got to the top.'

The expedition, which included three other Britons - Jonathan Wakefield, Dr Andrew Collins and Andy Mayers - failed to raise any sponsorship and each member had to share the costs. At one stage they had to beg food from other mountaineers. By comparison, the Karakoram 8000 Project, an all-British expedition which was on K2 at the same time but failed to get to the summit, had two sponsors and the support of the British Mountaineering Council.

Public relations officers kept the press informed about Karakoram 8000's progress and gave out the telephone number for the base camp. All the Mazur-Pratt team had was a network of worried families and friends.

K2 can never compete with Everest for publicity, although far fewer people have climbed it. Ever since Sir Edmund Hillary conquered Everest at the time of the 1953 coronation it has been regarded as almost part of the nation's heritage.

But K2 is a climber's mountain, natural territory for an outsider such as Jonathan Pratt. He is unlikely to write a book or give lectures about the ascent. At the moment he is planning his next expedition to Nepal.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas