Seen from the north,
(A) Latok I (7,145m) and (B) Latok II (7,108m).
(1) The 2018 Russian attempt on the north ridge, reaching the summit ridge at approximately 7,050m.
(2) Anglo-Slovenian route to make the second ascent of Latok I, passing through the west col to finish via the southern slopes.
©Sergey Glazunov/American Alpine Journal
NORTH RIDGE/FACE AND SOUTH FACE 2,500M, ED+,
ALEŠ ČESEN - LUKA STRAŽAR (SLOVENIA) - TOM LIVINGSTONE (U.K.), AUGUST 5–9
In 1978 four Americans attempted the "Walker Spur of the Karakoram", the north ridge of Latok I from the Choktoi Glacier. Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy, George and Jeff Lowe spent 21 days climbing over 100 pitches and had probably surmounted all the difficulties, when a combination of wind, cold and Jeff Lowe’s rapidly deteriorating condition due to altitude sickness forced a retreat. It remains one of the finest and most notable near misses in the history of alpinism. Despite literally dozens of subsequent attempts over the next 40 years, no one came close to reaching their high point of nearly 7,000m. The first and to date only ascent of the mountain was made in 1979, when a Japanese team reached the summit from the south.
Tom Livingstone met Luka Stražar at an international winter gathering in Scotland. Together with Aleš Česen they travelled to the north side of Latok I, where Česen confided, "we think there is a better way to the summit than the full north ridge". American Josh Wharton, who travelled to the Choktoi four times to attempt the north ridge, envisaged a line that would climb the right flank of the ridge, then slant up to the (west) col between Latok I and II. From there his proposed route crossed onto the south side of the mountain, where easier terrain would lead to the top. This was the route eventually followed by the Anglo-Slovenian trio, who climbed generally good ice runnels and névé on the right side of the ridge to around 6,400m, at which point they angled up right to reach the west col at 6,700m. From there they followed south-facing snow slopes in generally stormy weather to the summit, which they reached on their fifth day. Descending approximately the same line, the team regained base camp three days later, having made only the second ascent of this prestigious mountain in the Panmah Muztagh, and the first from the north.