American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Latok II Attempt

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1988

Latok II Attempt. Because of very bad snow conditions when, seven days after leaving Dassu, Paul de Mengel, Dr. John Hancock, Brian Mullen and I as leader reached the Uzzam Brakk Glacier, the porters were unable to reach our intended Base Camp. We had to settle for being about 1½ hours short. We paid the porters off and made an enforced camp where we stood in the deep snow. The following week was spent ferrying 1.3 tons of gear as far as we could, still just short of where we had intended to place Base Camp. On June 21, Paul Nunn, Bill Barker, Joe Brown and Mo Anthoine arrived at Base Camp, bringing the full complement of eight team members together. We forced a passage across the Uzun Brakk Glacier and up the subsidiary glacier leading to the west ridge of Latok II. We established Advance Base at 17,500 feet on June 23. The ridge flank was climbed in five days to Camp I at 20,000 feet. Five more days were spent pushing along the ridge to what we called Camp 1½ This was used to overcome a difficult rock-and-ice section. After ropes were fixed, Camp 1½ was not used. After much hard work in poor weather, Camp II was established at 22,000 feet on July 8. On July 10, Brown and de Mengel reached a high point of 22,500 feet. A storm started that evening and lasted for three days. Concern was expressed about our being able to get off the mountain, never mind getting up it! Avalanches swept away fixed ropes. Food was running short. On July 14, the descent began. Despite extremely dangerous conditions, the evacuation was completed safely. In spite of a multiplicity of attempts, no summit in this range has ever been reached more than once. Italians climbed Latok II from the south in 1978. The Pakistani official altitudes are 7145 meters for Latok I and 7108 for Latok II. Yet there are doubts about their height. This led Arturo Bergamaschi’s 1978 Italian expedition to resurvey and renumber the peaks, but as this has not been accepted in Pakistan, it would be best to keep the old ordering to avoid confusion.

Edward Howard, Minute Climbing Club, England

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