American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Central Karakoram, Latok II, West Face and Northwest Ridge, Ascents and Other Activity

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1998

Latok II, West Face and Northwest Ridge, Ascents, and Other Activity. A mostly German expedition of Alex and Thomas Huber, Toni Gutsch, Franz Fendt, and Christian Schlesener, plus American Conrad Anker, succeeded in making the second and third ascents of Latok II (7108m; see clarification below on the naming and altitudes of the Latok group). The team arrived on the Uzum Brakk Glacier in the middle of June. The Huber brothers, Gutsch and Anker began fixing rope up the central couloir to access the 1000-meter-plus face that begins at more than 6000 meters. Their route, Tsering Mosong (VII 5.10c A3), involved 26 pitches and was climbed over 11 days. A full account of the west face climb appears earlier in this journal.

Christian Schlesener and Franz Fendt made the third ascent of the mountain via the west face’s central ice couloir to the northwest ridge. They placed their advanced base camp at 6000 meters in the couloir. From there, they followed the central couloir to the crest of the ridge at 6600 meters, then started up the remaining 500 meters of the ridge. Thirty hours of climbing put them near the summit, but they were unable to see it and began to doubt their chances of success; fortunately, a radio message from base camp, from where the climbers could be seen, confirmed that they were close. They reached the summit after a 36-hour push. On the descent, the pair rappeled for 14 hours down the horizontal wall; Fendt narrowly escaped an ice avalanche before they arrived back in advanced base 50 hours after leaving. They got three hours’ rest at ABC, then continued down, using up all their climbing gear for rappel anchors. After having placed their last ice screw, they tied their ropes together and rappelled one last time, then downclimbed the last 300 meters. They had been moving nearly non-stop for 70 hours. They named their route Nomadu (VI 5.10a WI5 A2, 1100m).

Thomas Huber and Gutsch also made the second ascent of Spalding via the 900-meter Northeast Pillar (V 5.12b), climbed for the first time in 1995 by Volker Benz, Alex Huber, Karl Sptizof and Ruta Florschutz. Alex and Thomas, together with Gutsch, also climbed Bravo Brakk (ca. 5999m) via a snow/ice couloir up to 70° on the southwest flank in seven hours from base camp.

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