Spanish Duo Aim for Latok II in the Karakoram

Catalan climbers Miquel Mas and Marc Subirana are currently approaching Base Camp at Latok II (7,108m). They have not yet revealed their exact plan for this difficult and beautiful mountain, which is part of the famous Latok group. It lies in the Panmah Muztagh subrange of the central Karakoram.

Latok II was the first of the four dramatic Latok peaks to be climbed. On August 28, 1977, Italians Ezio Alimonta, Renato Valentini, and Toni Mase reached the main summit via the south ridge. A few days later, Attilio Bianchetti, Giorgio Cantaloni, Giuseppe Villa, and Beppe Zandonella climbed as far as the south summit (7,047m) of Latok II. This second group did not reach the main summit.

Blac & white photo of spiky Latok II

The southeast side of Latok II (right). The Italians climbed the buttress on the right. Photo: American Alpine Club

 

Interestingly, the Italians had originally applied for a permit for the Ogre, but a British team was already going there, so the Italians switched to Latok I (7,145m). But Latok I was too dangerous that season, with constant ice avalanches on the south face. In the end, they opted for Latok II.

Americans Mark Richey, Doug Chabot, and Steve Swenson made the first repeat of the south ridge in August 2006. Theirs was also the first alpine-style ascent.

The 2006 south ridge route. Photo: Desnivel

 

The climbing history of Latok II is worth a separate story, but among the most prominent feats was a 1997 climb of the west face. Thomas and Alex Huber, Toni Gutsch, and Conrad Anker forged a new route on the 1,000m wall of Latok II from June 12 to 21. After summiting, they named their new route Tsering Mosong, which means “long life”.

Six days later, a separate team consisting of Christian Schlesener and Franz Frendt climbed the peak alpine style via the central couloir of the northwest ridge, a route they called Nomadu.

From left to right: Alexander Huber, Toni Gutsch, and Thomas Huber on the summit of Latok II. Photo: Huberbuam

 

The southwest face of Latok II was opened by a strong French team in 2012. Matthieu Maynadier, Antoine Bletton, Sebastien Ratel, and Pierre Labbre managed to climb the untouched right side of the southwest face, although with bad weather fast approaching, they had to retreat just 100m below the top.  They named their new line Theoreme de la Peine, which means “Theorem of Suffering”.

The Theoreme de la Peine route. Photo: Bletton/Labbre/Maynard/Ratel

 

Latok II is a demanding and difficult mountain and has also featured some fatalities.

One occurred in August 2009. Spanish climbers Oscar Perez and Alvaro Novellon had just made the first complete ascent of the northwest ridge. On the way down, Perez slipped at 6,300m and fell 40m. Perez dragged Novellon behind him, but a rock stopped them from falling further.

Perez was injured but Novellon managed to go down to seek help. A group of 24 rescuers tried to save him, but the combination of bad weather, altitude, and the difficult route prevented them from reaching him. The weather also delayed a helicopter rescue. Ultimately, Perez perished.

The first complete ascent of the northwest ridge of Latok II in 2009 by Oscar Perez and Alvaro Novellon. Photo: Alvaro Novellon

 

This year’s Latok II hopefuls, Miquel Mas and Marc Subirana, partnered last year with Edu Marin to climb Nameless Tower in the Trango group. Edu Marin is back at Nameless Tower now, with his father and brother, as Mas and Subirana approach Latok II.

Kris Annapurna is the writer of Explorersweb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, updates of news during the climbing seasons in Himalaya, Karakorum, etc., for the last 9 month for Explorersweb. Prior to that, Kris spent time at/worked at Real State agent, interpreter and sworn translator in criminal law.

Based in Madrid, Spain, and trips to Hungary (homeland).

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