American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Latok IV

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1981

Latok IV. The Sangaku Doshikai Expedition was composed of Koji Okano, Hisashi Handa, Tsutomu Tagusari, Dr. Masaki Noda and me as leader. Latok IV lies south of Latok III. A Japanese attempt in 1976 ended when a member was killed. We made Base Camp at 15,100 feet on the Baintha Lukpar Glacier on July 4, Camp I at 16,750 feet on the 7th and Camp II at 17,725 feet under the southwest face on the 8th. All but the doctor set out to attempt the face alpine-style on the 9th. We climbed three pitches on avalanche debris and twelve in a 45° ice couloir. Then we followed the ice face running up to the col between the main and south summits. Okano and Tagusari were exhausted at 19,700 feet. We all bivouacked there. On the 10th Handa and I reached the col. We climbed along the summit ridge but could not tell which of the four summits was the highest. Short of time, we retreated 150 feet below the first summit to the bivouac. With the other two we returned to Base Camp three days later. On July 15 Okano, Handa and I set out, but Handa had to give up. Okano and I bivouacked at 18,700 and 20,500 feet. We reached the summit (6456 meters, 21,182 feet) at 8:45 A.M. on July 18. On our return to the col, I soloed to the south peak. The weather turned bad on the descent. It was snowing heavily when we reached 19,200 feet. After we began to dig snow for the bivouac, we suddenly fell 150 feet into a crevasse. Okano broke a rib and I my right ankle. Luckily our sacks and ice hammers were near us. After waiting in vain for rescue for four days in the bottom of the crevasse, I decided to escape alone. Okano could not move. I remembered that the crevasse was near a ridge-like projection in the face and began to dig horizontally in the snow wall. After five hours I had a 12-foot tunnel to the face. That night’s bivouac without protection was terrible. I encouraged myself, thinking of Doug Scott’s crawl off the Ogre. The next afternoon I crawled to a plateau where I could see Camp II and my friends searching for us. They heard my cries, but I had to spend one more night exposed on the face. The three other members could not extract Okano from the crevasse, but luckily a three-man British party, led by Cairns Dickson, happened to pass on their way to Uzun Brakk Peak and they helped with the rescue. Okano was out eight days after the fall. We two injured climbers were evacuated to Gilgit by helicopter.

Motomu Ohmiya, Japanese Alpine Club

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