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Asia, Pakistan, Latok I North Ridge Attempt

Latok I North Ridge Attempt. Our objective was to make the first ascent, alpine-style, of the 2500-meter-high north ridge of Latok I (7145 meters, 23,452 feet), so nearly climbed in 1978 by Jim Donini, Mike Kennedy, Jeff Lowe and George Lowe. (See AAJ, 1979, pages 24-28.) We were New Zealander Andrew MacFarlane, Britons Carol McDermott, Andrew MacNae and me. We set up Base Camp at the junction of the Panmah and Choktoi Glaciers on June 5. After acclimatization trips and sitting out bad weather, we eventually set foot on Latok on July 10. The crest of the lower buttress was crowned with snow mushrooms and after a day of struggling up rotten slabs, we elected to retreat and tackle the ice gully just east of the buttress in order to expedite our objective of a rapid ascent. Unfortunately, during the retreat, MacFarlane was struck by a freak rockfall and we had to return with him to Base Camp. A storm began the next morning. We were back on the mountain on the 17th. At 5150 meters, MacNae became ill and so we descended to Advance Base. After a day’s rest, McDermott and I returned to the mountain. By midday, we had topped out of the ice gully above the rock buttress but because of snow conditions had to stop for the night on a snow mushroom at 5350 meters. The next day, progress up the snowfield was made possible by cloud cover, We bivouacked in ice buckets at 5880 meters at the start of the main central buttress. By two A.M. a fresh storm had engulfed us. We made the decision to retreat. Fifteen hours and 32 abseils later, we reached safety. On July 25, we vacated Base Camp.

David K. Wills, North London Mountaineering Club