Aleister Crowley is well known in magick circles as a man who called himself The Beast 666 and was dubbed a hundred years ago by newspapers as "the wickedest man in the world." What isn't well known is that Crowley was also a skilled climber in his younger days who climbed 17,126-foot Iztaccíhuatl in Mexico with his climbing buddy Oscar Eckenstein, the man who invented the modern crampon.
Then in 1902 Crowley and Eckenstein teamed up to lead an audacious expedition to central Asia to attempt to climb K2, then called Chogo Ri, the second highest mountain in the world. This was the second attempt by climbers to ascend an 8,000-meter peak, the first being Albert Mummery's fatal try at climbing Nanga Parbat in 1895.
The ill-fated expedition was a disaster with a long spell of unbelievably bad weather which led to a lot of unbelievably bad behavior by the five climbers. Some of the stuff that happened is both funny and odd, it's hard to make up such strange events and circumstances.
Read the new two-part story of the expedition--Dateline 1902: First Attempt to Climb K2 PART I and Dateline 1902: First Attempt to Climb K2 PART II--for all the sordid details as well as some very interesting historical photographs depicting a group photo and a shot of Crowley immersed in a glacial lake, taking his first bath in two months.
Photograph above: The 1902 expedition in India before the bickering started. Climbers from left to right areWessely, Eckenstein, Guillarmond, Crowley, Pfannl, and Knowles.