American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Asia, Pakistan, Karakoram, Panmah Mustagh, Latok V, First Ascent; Latok II, South Ridge, First Alpine-Style Ascent

  • Climbs And Expeditions
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 2007

Latok V, first ascent; Latok II, south ridge, first alpine-style ascent. Doug Chabot, Mark Richey, and I arrived at base camp on the Baintha Lukpar Glacier on July 28, with the intent of climbing the west face of Latok III. We arrived at the end of an extended period of hot weather, which had melted much of the ice from the face, causing considerable rockfall. During acclimatization we made what we believe is the first ascent of Latok V (6,190m). [See note below on Latok nomenclature.] On August 4 we ascended the glacier to the col between Latok V and Latok IV and then up the east face to the south ridge. We continued along the crest of the ridge to a bivouac at 6,000m. On August 5 we reached the summit and descended to our bivouac, then back to base camp the following day.

Observations of rockfall on the west face of Latok III made during acclimatization trips up the glacier caused us to change our objective to the south ridge of Latok II (7,103m). At the time we did not know this route had been followed by a 17-person Italian expedition, to make the first ascent of the peak in 1977. We made a reconnaissance of the route on August 14 and discovered fixed rope and trash left from 1977. On August 19 we started up the south ridge and climbed to above a large gap in the ridge that would force us out onto a glacier to the left. A serac barrier threatens this glacier, and by midday it was too hot to venture in that direction, so we stopped at 5,500m to wait for cooler early-morning temperatures. On August 20 we crossed the glacier and climbed an ice face on the opposite side. This led to a point above the seracs where we could recross the glacier to the south ridge. We then climbed an ice face and chimneys to our second bivouac, at 6,400m.

On our third day we climbed through several rock bands to a snow ridge, where we placed a high camp at 6,700m. On August 21 the weather started to deteriorate, and we reached the summit in a storm. We took two more days to descend to base camp.

After Latok II we waited to do more climbing, but poor weather and lots of new snow prevented us from doing anything else.

Steve Swenson, AAC

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