This article first appeared on ExplorersWeb. The original can be read
After 40 years and over 30 attempts by some of the world’s best alpinists, the North Ridge of Latok I has finally been climbed by Luka Stražar and Aleš Česen of Slovenia, and Tom Livingstone of the U.K.
Latok I from Base Camp. How much would you pay for this view? Photo credit: Josh Wharton
Latok 1 has only been climbed once, when a Japanese team summited the south side in 1979. The North Ridge was first attempted in 1978 by the all-American team of Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy, Jeff Lowe and George Lowe. They climbed 100 pitches before sickness and poor weather halted their progress.
The North Ridge has been widely touted as the last great problem of the Karakorum. Because of the number of failed attempts, it has attained mythical status in mountaineering folklore. Jeff Lowe dubbed it “the unfinished business of the last generation”
Left to Right: Cesen, Livingstone and Strazar. Photo: Aleš Česen
The trio took a less direct line to finish the ridge, likely due to the dangerous snow mushrooms and cornices on the final sections. A team which included well known British climbers Doug Scott and Simon Yates aborted their North Ridge plans back in 1990 due to similar conditions.
Another team who were thwarted by snow conditions were French-Canadians Maxime Turgeon and Louis-Philippe Menard in 2006. Speaking directly to ExWeb Menard commented on the allure of the northern side of the mountain for climbers:
“This is what I see everyday [a photo of Latok I] when I sit down to eat breakfast… Michael Kennedy gave me this picture from their 1978 attempt before we did ours. I still think it’s one of the most beautiful faces in the world”.
This notable first ascent follows the recent drama of Russian climber Alexander Gukov, who was trapped for six days on Latok I, following the death of his climbing partner while descending from a failed attempt on the North Ridge.