Sixty Years After the Conquest of K2: The Story of Italian Explorer Ardito Desio

K2 portrait with VE25

Originally Published in February 2015 (Hawaii Luxury Magazine)

“In life,” suggested Ardito Desio, the Italian adventurer-scholar who led the first successful conquest of K2 in 1954, “you have to ask yourself how far can you go.” These words have proven to be the guiding star of his great-nephew and University of Hawaii Adjunct Professor of Anthropology Guido Carlo Pigliasco who also is an accomplished Pacific Island scholar, attorney, and Explorers Club Fellow.

Unlike Sir Edmund Hillary who embraced his ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953 with Sherpa Tenzin Norgay as his life’s singular achievement, Professor Desio did not see the conquest of K2 as his greatest moment. Instead Professor Desio often claimed that “Crossing the Libyan Desert by camel caravan,” was one of his most cherished memories. What he won’t tell you in the same sentence is how bandits attacked Professor Desio’s expedition and that he was nearly killed by a stray bullet in the ensuing gun battle. Professors of Geology don’t ordinarily engage in gunfights but Ardito Desio was no ordinary man.