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Asia, Pakistan, Karakoram, Panmah Mustagh, Latok III, Third Ascent

Latok III, third ascent. No doubt influenced by the inclusion of the route in the seminal book, Himalayan Alpine Style, Alvaro Novellon and Oscar Perez of Spain made the third ascent of the southwest ridge of 6,949m Latok III, also the third ascent of the mountain. The first ascent was made in 1979 by a Japanese expedition, which approached from the Baintha Lukpar Glacier and made a three-week siege of the ridge, climbing mostly on the right flank and using 1,600m of fixed rope. From the glacier the route has a vertical interval of 2,300m, though it is the upper 1,700m on the ridge itself that provides the main difficulties. The crux proved to be a steep rock barrier high on the mountain, giving difficulties of UIAA VI+ and A2. In 1988 three Italians repeated the route, with seven bivouacs, in a self-supported push, helped in places by old Japanese rope. They needed three more days to regain base camp.

Novellon and Perez first climbed to the shoulder (5,300m) at the base of the ridge, where they deposited food and equipment. After they regained this point in seven hours climbing from base camp on July 21, they set off for the summit the next day in alpine style. On the 22nd they connected runnels, couloirs, and snowfields to arrive at the base of the steep barrier, having found the initial ground easier than expected and making fast progress. The second day, after an uncomfortable bivouac, they started late and climbed the step, using aid in places and making several variants, because cracks were chocked with ice. (The whole route was in icy condition.) On the third day, after another poor bivouac, at 6,500m, they left most of their gear, overcame three pitches of rock and mixed terrain, made more difficult by fatigue and lack of acclimatization, and arrived at the summit snowfield. They unroped and continued to the top, only 12 days after arriving at base camp. They rested for a day at their top bivouac and made it back to base in a roundtrip of seven days, exhausted but having removed all their equipment. They used no fixed ropes, though they did use anchors from the Japanese expedition for rappelling, making theirs the first ascent of the mountain in alpine style.

Lindsay Griffin, Mountain INFO, CLIMB Magazine