Weekend Warm-Up: Unknown Factors

In 2018, Hansjorg Auer planned to lead a group of fellow athletes deep into the Baspa Valley of the Indian Himalaya. He died in an avalanche in the Canadian Rockies, along with David Lama and Jess Roskelley. A year later, North Face athletes Matty Hong, Jacopo Larcher, Siebe Vanhee, Iker Pou, and Eneko Pou did the trip to honor the dream of their friend.

No one aim

The expedition had no single aim. They were simply there to explore what the valley had to offer.

All five athletes revel in the exploration of a new place. “You can feel the energy from the valley,” one says.  The beautifully shot film showcases the richness of this part of the Himachal Pradesh and what it offers the climbing community.

Photo: Adventure 52


Part of what makes this trip so successful is the attitude of the climbers. Each day, they set out to find something new, but do not pressure themselves. A number of times, they break into smaller groups. Matty Hong, the final addition to the team, admits that this type of trip is new to him. He usually focuses on sport climbing and bouldering, and big-wall challenges in an exotic location pushed him out of his comfort zone.

As the title suggests, the film explores the need to adapt to the unknown and conditions you can’t control. Weather typically dictated their activities. The film shows the five take on granite faces in snow and rain. They move seamlessly between single-pitch sport climbing and big-wall climbs.

Photo: The North Face


Open-toe climbing shoe

Iker Pou broke his toe shortly before leaving on the trip and at first, was unable to climb. Still, he was determined to go. As soon as his toe healed a little, he cut open his climbing shoes and climbed open-toe style. Throughout the trip, he put up a lot of new routes, but one was particularly important to the Pou brothers. That was their first ascent of a 7c+/560m route they called Latin Brother, in honor of Hansjorg Auer.

The Pou brothers summit ‘Latin Brother’. Photo: The North Face


While they opened Latin Brother, Hong, Larcher, and Vanhee were on the other side of the valley on their own first ascent, the 7b/450m Toby’s Shipwreck.

“It’s not just about first ascents or finding rocks and climbing them,” Hong said later. “It’s about stepping into the unknown.”

The 19-minute film gets this point across.