In 1860, Captain Henry Haversham Godwin-Austen, of the Survey of India, went to the Baltistan area and surveyed the famous Shigar and Saltoro valleys. This greatly contributed to the knowledge of the area. He was an officer in the 24th Foot Battalion, later the South Wales Borderers, and had also served in the Second Anglo- Burmese War in 1852. Earlier, he had joined Montgomerie at a survey station in Kashmir in 1857. He also surveyed the Kajnag range in southern Kashmir and was the first to put Gulmarg on the map. In 1858-59, he surveyed eastern Kashmir including Jammu. In 1861, he started from Skardu and entered Braldu valley from Skoro-La (5,043m). He then climbed and surveyed the Chogo-lungma, Kero Lungma, Biafo and Panmah glaciers. It was from Kero Lungma that Godwin-Austen climbed the Nushik pass (4,990m/1 6,371 ft) and is stated to have entered the 53-km-long Hispar glacier. He was perhaps the first European to reach it. He, however, did not survey it. He was considered as one of the greatest mountaineers of the day, had great power of endurance and was immensely brave. It is a myth that the K2 peak, which was erroneously called Godwin-Austen peak, was discovered by him. It is, however, a fact that he explored the gateway to K2 (the Baltoro glacier), along with famous glaciers including Godwin-Austen glacier. This was indeed his outstanding contribution to the geography of the area.
Another famous explorer of the area was Francis Younghusband (later knighted), a noted soldier and thrill-seeker. Showing his courage and tenacity in 1887, he crossed the Gobi desert from Peking and entered India by crossing Mustagh pass. It was during this journey that he saw K2. In this way he was the first European to cross Mustagh pass. He was also the first European to set eyes on K2 from the northern side. His guide on this inward journey was a former resident of Askole village, situated at the start of Baltoro glacier, who had been living on the other side of the mountain for a very long time. When he entered the village of Askole with his guide, Younghusband was extended due courtesies. His guide was, however, looked down upon because he had shown a foreigner the possible route of invasion. Subsequently in 1903-4, Sir Francis Younghusband became the head of the famous mission to Tibet.
It was probably for the first time in 1902 that an organized expedition of Oscar J.L. Eckenstein traveled to K-2 from Baltoro glacier. The expedition was without any guide. Its aim was to explore approaches to the mountain and possibly have a try on the peak. It was, however, harsh weather which prevented it from attempting the peak. The party however collected useful information about the upper Godwin-Austen glacier which was used as a stepping stone by expeditions in later years. Two members of the expedition - one a Swiss by the name of Dr. Jules Jacot Guillarmot and the other an Austrian by the name of Dr. V. Wesseley - succeeded in reaching 6523 meters (21,400ft) on the north-eastern ridge of K-2. The party also ascended Skyang La (6150 meters) to ascertain climbing possibilities of Skyang Kangri peak (7544 meters). Eckenstein was the first mountaineer who applied the principles of engineering to mountaineering and its equipment in Pakistan.
In 1909, a big Italian expedition under the leadership of resolute Luigi Amadeo Giuseppe (Duke of Abruzzi) the grandson of King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy reconnoitred K2. Its members produced a very good account of the expedition with photographs and accurate maps of Baltoro area. The Duke, however, rejected the southern and western ridges of the mountain for a climb. His party attempted the peak from the south-east ridge-which later came to be known as Abruzzi ridge - but could not proceed beyond 5560 meters because of problems with porters. The party, however, carried out a thorough reconnaissance of K2 from south to north-east. Vittono Sella, a photographer and a climber, accompanied the Duke on this expedition. Sella pass, near Godwin-Austen glacier, is named after him.