Breaking News: North Side of Latok I Finally Climbed

Latok I from Base Camp. How much would you pay for this view? Photo: Josh Wharton

[Editor’s note: Article updated August 17, with latest details and corrections on the line taken]

Luka Stražar and Aleš Česen of Slovenia and Tom Livingstone of the U.K have made the first ascent of a new line on the north side of Latok I. The trio climbed three-quarters of the North Ridge before traversing right to the West Col between Latok I and 2. From here, they took the North Face to the summit.

Left to Right: Cesen, Livingstone and Strazar. Photo: Aleš Česen

Earlier reports, drawing on ambiguous Google translations of foreign mountaineering sites, incorrectly stated that they had climbed the full North Ridge. 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”.

Latok 1 itself 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. Since then, over 30 attempts have failed to climb the full North Ridge.

The North Ridge of Latok I, showing the point reached by Alexander Gukov et al in 2017. Photo: Alexander Gukov

Livingstone, Stražar and Česen decided to exit the ridge three-quarters of the way up to avoid dangerous snow mushrooms and cornices on the upper section. They were at roughly the same height where Sergey Glazunov died in a rappelling mishap earlier this season, also on the North Ridge.

A team which included well known British climbers Doug Scott and Simon Yates aborted their own North Ridge plans back in 1990 due to similarly perilous snow conditions.

Writing on Instagram today (August 17), Tom Livingstone said:

“The death of one Russian (and subsequent rescue of the other) reinforced the danger of pushing too far … on the upper section of the ridge”

Quebec climber Louis-Philippe Menard and his partner likewise failed on the ridge in 2006. Speaking to ExWeb, Menard conveyed the mystical allure of the north side, which still held him in its grip 12 years later:

“This is what I see every day [a photo of Latok I] when I sit down to eat breakfast … It’s one of the most beautiful faces in the world”.


Updated: Gukov Rescued From Latok I

Gukov Trapped on Latok I After the Death of his Partner

Latok I’s North Ridge Wins Again

40 Years Later and Latok I North Ridge Still Unclimbed

About the Author

Ash Routen

Ash Routen

Ash Routen is an outdoor and adventure writer from the UK specialising in adventurous travel and expeditions, such as mountaineering, polar travel, and ocean crossings. Ash juggles a day job as a public health scientist with this second career in outdoor writing.

His words have featured in national newspapers, national and international outdoor and adventure magazines, and various websites. Bylines include Financial Times, Daily Telegraph, Outside Magazine, Rock and Ice, and Red Bull.

Alongside writing, Ash also spends some time undertaking his own adventures, and completed a 640 km foot crossing of a frozen Lake Baikal in 2018. His next arctic journey is a 700 km trek along the coast of Baffin Island in Canada.


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2 Comments on "Breaking News: North Side of Latok I Finally Climbed"

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Congratulations on finally climbing the North Ridge! It takes a lot of work and preparation to get to such a huge goal. People look for that kind of motivation in today’s talent pool. So if you ever settle down a bit, consider mentioning the great things you’ve accomplished on your travels!

Inayat Shimshali

Congratulations Team finally summit after 40 years, I was at the base camp in 2000 with my USA Friends for 1 days trip from Ogar BC, Russain team was there but to climb, but unsuccessful on member was fall broken lage, Dream to be there again with some one,