The strong team of Tom Livingstone, Ales Cesen and Luka Strazar made the first ascent of Latok I from the north side of the peak via a new route.
There was much speculation as to the line they chose with many climbers assuming they climbed the often-tried North Ridge.
Instead, the Brit and two Slovenians opted for a safer and more logical line that followed mixed terrain to an exit ramp that traversed around from the north to the south via the Latok I and Latok II col.
While the first ascent of the North Ridge hasn’t been made, it’s obvious that this route finds safer terrain and offers technical climbing on steep ground.
“We climbed most of the ridge, but exited it at the top,” said Livingstone. “We won’t claim to have climbed the north ridge. The mountain hadn’t been climbed from this northern side, so we took the logical line.”
Flip through the photos below for a glimpse of the big features on the new climb.
This is the line we climbed on Latok 1 (7145m). The vertical height gain from glacier to summit alone is 2400m. We started slightly to the right of the rock spur, as it was quickest to solo ice rather than pitch technical rock. Then we followed the ridge until about 3/4s height (about 2 days worth of climbing). From here, we followed our original plan and traversed right, to the west col between Latok 1 and 2. We moved onto the south side and from there to the summit . The death of one Russian (and subsequent rescue of the other) reinforced the danger of pushing too far in high-altitude alpinism, particularly on the upper section of the ridge . We climbed most of the ridge, but exited it at the top. We won’t claim to have climbed the north ridge. The mountain hadn’t been climbed from this northern side, so we took the logical line. We’re psyched! The full north ridge is there, if anybody wants it! . Here are some other pics of all the fun we had. Photos: @alescesen @petzl_official @mountainequipment @lasportivagram @julbo_eyewear @lyonequipment
All three alpinists have visited Canada in the past and climbed a number of big routes. Strazar and Cesen lived in the Rockies during a cold snap a few winters ago and reached the tops of a many classic ice routes.
Livingstone has visited Canada a number of times and climbed The House/Anderson VI M7 on Mount Alberta with Uisdean Hawthorn in 2015.
Last winter, Livingstone teamed up with the late Marc-Andre Leclerc and made the first winter ascent of Navigator Wall on Mount Slesse.
They also attempted to climb the north face of Ha Ling above Canmore in winter. After three attempts, Leclerc said, “When the first winter ascent of Ha Ling’s North Face is completed, the route is destined to become classic. So far it goes like this: Climb runout kitty litter slabs to gain hollow poorly protected flakes which are followed to the base of a chossy corner – up the chossy corner to a series of shitty bird beak placements in loose rock – step right to a crumbling ledge, then back left on a decomposing wall which is followed to a bullshit compact slab buried in sugar snow.”
Watch a clip of Leclerc during the rappel in this short video from Livingstone.