Sunday, August 9, 2009

Latok 1--Round Three!

I've been home for two weeks from my third trip in as many years to the north side of Latok 1. Unfortunately I don't have good news. This year the Karakorum had its biggest snow year since 1976, and snow conditions on the peak were terrible. Colin Haley, Dylan Johnson, and I climbed the right side of the North Face to reach the North Ridge just below 6000 meters. As soon as we hit the ridge we knew that our chances were slim, as there were unconsolidated house-sized snow mushrooms above us. After an interesting night out, with our tent perched on a double corniced ridge, we made a hasty retreat in the morning.

It's disappointing to have given so much time and effort to Latok without getting the proper conditions and weather for a decent attempt, but alpine climbing can be a fickle game. I'm certainly not the first person to be beaten back by Latok, as I know of at least 5 other climbers that have been on three expeditions to the peak. And there have been at least 35 unsuccessful expeditions to Latok in the last 40 years! Obviously it is not an easy mountain. Will I be back? I'm not sure. I wish I could say my obsession had run it's course, but I've never seen another peak that wrapped difficulty and beauty into such a perfect package. I don't think any climbers have been to Latok four times, maybe fourth time's the charm!

Hope you enjoy the photos. From top to bottom they are: Colin leading steep ice on Latok, Dylan and Colin on the lower North Face of Latok, and Latok at sunset during an acclimatization mission. I focused more on video this year, since I'm working on a film project with Chris Alstrin (The creator of Higher Ground and Luxury Liner), but you can also check out some cool photos over on Colin's blog ( I want to thank Dean and Mike for their support on this project. I think it says a lot about Mammut's commitment to real-deal alpinism that they're willing to support a trip that obviously has a small chance of succeeding. Thanks guys!

No comments: