The Story of K2 and the Brotherhood of the Rope

32 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2010

See all articles by James G. Clawson

James G. Clawson

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Gerry Yemen

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business

Abstract

Suitable for undergraduate, graduate, and executive education programs, this version of the K2 story provides the full version of the story based on sequential dates. Written as a replacement for the much-used Greenland Case (UVA-OB-0581) this undisguised case can be taught in a similar manner. Chris Warner led a team of experienced mountain climbers on an expedition to reach the summit of K2—the second highest in the world. After failing to succeed on their first two attempts, Warner and his team brought together other teams representing eight different countries hoping to work together for success. Their story is an account full of examples where a leadership point of view was taken or not taken. The successes and failures of the expedition's approach is bursting with real world examples and offers an exciting framework to house theoretical concepts about team building and leadership. A video supplement is available to enhance student learning.

Excerpt

UVA-OB-0979

August 22, 2009

THE STORY OF K2 AND THE Brotherhood of the Rope

In the early summer of 2007, Chris Warner led a U.S. team of experienced mountain climbers on an expedition to reach the 8,611-meter (28,261 feet) summit of K2, the second-highest and one of the most dangerous of the 14 peaks on Earth in the 8,000-meter range. K2 is part of the Karakoram Range, the eastern tip of the Himalayan Range, on the border between Pakistan and China.

The first team of climbers to summit K2 was from Italy, on July 31, 1954. Although thousands had tried, by 2006 only 249 climbers had reached the summit of K2. In contrast, Mount Everest, the tallest mountain at 8,848 meters (29,028 feet), had been attempted 11,000 times, and 3,000 climbers had reached its summit. Mountaineering had compiled a unique set of statistics, including the “death-to-summit” ratio: on Mount Everest, the ratio was 1.8%, and on K2, it was 23.8%. “The wind conditions, the sheerness of the slope, the exposure to the elements, and the constant threat of avalanche and rock fall make it a much more difficult technical climb than Everest,” said Joel Shalowitz, a member of the 2007 Warner team. “It's very unforgiving. For every five who summit, one has died.” Team leader Warner said:

There's actually been only 15 Americans who have climbed K2, and there have been only 8 Americans who have summited K2 and Everest. Meanwhile, 12 Americans have walked on the moon. And so the statistics alone bear out that it's incredibly difficult. But more important, I think, is who fails on K2. Everest attracts a lot of people who are not considered climbers. They're just people who have a tremendous amount of ambition and are in good physical condition. K2 attracts only climbers. So the people who fail there are really all-stars every single time.

. . .

Keywords: Team work, trust, risk taking, leadership, resonance, teams, dysfunctional teams, discipline, strategy, decision-making, goals, data analysis, multicultural teams.

Suggested Citation

Clawson, James G. and Yemen, Gerry, The Story of K2 and the Brotherhood of the Rope. Darden Case No. UVA-OB-0979. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1584136

James G. Clawson (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/faculty/clawson.htm

Gerry Yemen

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
110
Abstract Views
903
rank
246,743
PlumX Metrics