American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Latok I, North Ridge, Attempt, Harpoon, First Ascent, and Other Activity

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1999

Latok I, North Ridge, Attempt, Harpoon, First Ascent, and Other Activity. Our expedition consisted of Lyle Dean, John Bouchard, and myself. We established Base Camp at the head of Choctoi Glacier directly across from the north ridge and north east face of Latok I. In preparation, we first climbed the beautiful pyramid-shaped peak on the opposite side of the glacier from Latok (ca. 6000m). Lacking a name on any map, we dubbed the peak Harpoon.

Our ascent followed the obvious 2,500-foot couloir on the southwest face to the saddle on the south ridge. This was mostly snow climbing with some ice at the top to which we third classed, arriving at the saddle about noon. The following morning we climbed the remaining eight pitches of mostly rock and mixed up to 5.8 M4 along the south ridge to the summit. Although we did encounter some old retreat slings in the lower couloir, we found no evidence of previous climbing on the summit ridge. We reached the summit at approximately 1 p.m. on July 21 and descended that day to our high camp at the saddle and Base Camp the following day.

Over the next four weeks, bad weather and dangerous snow conditions prevented any attempt on Latok’s north ridge. We did make one attempt on the Ogre’s southwest pillar, only to have our ropes cut in half in serious rock fall in the couloir above the glacier. Also, John Bouchard and I made an attempt on Hanipispur (6047m), reaching the base of the most western summit block, a giant finger of granite. Oncoming bad weather and lack of time prevented us from getting the job done. The climbing to that point via the large south couloir to west ridge was excellent with several passages of rock up to 5.10 on the west ridge. The final vertical tower looked like if would involve three to four pitches of very difficult free climbing or aid.

Mark Richey

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