ROME (AP) _ Ardito Desio, an Italian explorer, geologist and cartographer who organized the first expedition to reach the top of Himalayan peak K-2, died Wednesday. He was 104.

Born in a tiny village in northeastern Italy, Desio was a relentless traveler. The geology and paleontology professor continued leading scientific expeditions into his 90s.

His greatest achievement came in 1954 when a 12-man expedition that he organized took two climbers _ Bruno Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni _ to the top of K-2, the world's second highest mountain after neighboring Mount Everest.

Desio and the rest of the team stopped several hundred yards from the mountain top.

In 1962, he became the first Italian to reach the South Pole.