American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Latok II Tragedy

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1978

Latok II Tragedy. Our expedition attempted Latok II (23,340 feet) by the west ridge, previously attempted by the Japanese in 1975. We were Don Morrison, Pat Fearnehough, Pat Green, Tony Riley and I. We reached Skardu on May 23 and established Base Camp on June 1 near the junction of the Uzun Brakk and an unnamed glacier. Further camps were established below the slopes leading to the west ridge col and, after a delay by bad weather, by June 20 upon the west and east ends of that col. The steep step at the base of the ridge was climbed by Green, Fearnehough and me in the next two days. As expected support did not materialize, Fearnehough returned to Base to find that Don Morrison had been killed on the night of June 21 in a midnight fall into a crevasse. He had been coming up with Riley to join the push up the ridge with a considerable load. Frozen conditions had allowed rapid unroped progress up the path below Camp I. Don attempted to cross a snow bridge and fell through. Green and I pressed on in ignorance of the tragedy until forced to retire by lack of supplies on June 26. We met the other two in the couloir leading to the col and we all withdrew from the mountain, reaching Skardu on July 10. Our high point was probably similar to that of the Japanese attempt. From the long mid-slope of the west ridge there remains a great deal of difficult climbing in the upper sections, with a combination of steep rock and ice and gendarmes for about 2000 feet. There were numerous problems resultant upon precedents of overpayment and uniquely short stages even for the Karakoram, both largely generated by Japanese and to some degree American expeditions.

Paul Nunn, Alpine Club

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