The photographer Sandro Gromen-Hayes had a string of unlucky encounters with K2 in the past. During the winter trip in 2021, he was a member of Nirmal Purja's team; nevertheless, he was not a part of the (all-Nepalese) summit group. Six months later, he planned to climb K2 in the summer, but when approaching the mountain, he hurt his ankle while hiking. On his third attempt, he has finally been successful, making the most of the opportunity he has been given. Gromen-Hayes was able to document the successful summit of K2 with the help of a mini DJI drone.
Flying a drone at such a high altitude comes with its own problems, such as very low temperatures, high wind conditions, and thin air. While w know that Gromen-Hayes used a mini DJI drone, we do not know which model drone was used and if any modifications were made to allow the drone to fly at such a high altitude.
“[When] I first attempted to fly a drone above 8,000 meters on Manaslu, the controller died before it could take off, and I had frostnip trying to figure it out,” Gromen-Hayes reportedly said. “When I first tried to fly a drone above 8,000 meters on Manaslu, the controller died before it could take off. I tried flying the drone on K2 in the winter at 7,100 meters, but it kept falling out of the sky.”
Mini DJI drone capture massive effort
This video does not represent the first time a drone was flown at a high altitude around the K2 mountain. A few years ago, Bartek Bargiel flew a modified DJI Mavic at a very high elevation at K2 as part of a rescue effort. Last year, Niels Jep posted another video on Instagram of the summit of K2.
On the Explorers Web site, it is mentioned that Gromen-Hayes flew a tiny off-the-shelf DJI drone when he reached the K2 summit. This might indicate that a DJI Mini 2 or Mini 3 Pro was used to capture the footage.
Photos courtesy of Gromen-Hayes.
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