The Bean Pole, first ascent; Latok I attempt. On July 12 Bean Bowers and I headed up the north ridge of Latok I to put in a cache and check out the bottom section of the climb. Skirting to the west the rock buttress climbed by many parties, we climbed 3,500' to ca 18,500' (5,639m) in seven hours. The climbing was mostly moderate and low-angle, and despite the fact that there was obviously more difficult climbing to come, we both felt optimistic that given some good fortune with weather and conditions we had a chance to succeed. Unfortunately luck was not on our side. In 42 days at base camp we experienced only two truly good days, and the pressure never went more then a few points in either direction. Despite frequent desperate calls to our weather forecaster in Montana, the news was always grim.
On July 20 Bean and I climbed a small rock spire (ca 18,500') on the north side of Choktoi Glacier. The peak is obvious and aesthetic when seen from base camp below Latok’s northern flank. We climbed six long pitches on the southeast pillar of the formation. The first 500' were surprisingly steep, with two pitches of 5.11 and a third of 5.11+ A0, which I was able to follow free at 5.12-. The remaining 500' proved relatively easy as we weaved around the peak to the east; Bean gained the summit with 40' of unprotected 5.8. We named the peak the Bean Pole in honor of Bean’s first trip up an unclimbed peak. I recommend the route and encourage ambitious teams to bring a few pins and beaks to explore the thin splitters on the south face proper.
Josh Wharton, AAC