Latok I - A Climb Without a Summit

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Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Original Post - Apr 26, 2009 - 07:11pm PT
This route set the mark for bold alpine style in the Himalaya for an American team. Enter the A team, most of whom post here! From Climbing March/April 1979.



















Any reflections on this adventure guys, thirty years on?
WBraun

climber
Apr 26, 2009 - 07:48pm PT
The sherpa has the "look" of OMG!!! after seeing the 120 lb pack he's got to lug to the base for 15 cents a day!!!!



More Air

Big Wall climber
S.L.C.
Apr 26, 2009 - 10:52pm PT
Thanks Steve:

Yeah, I was a little disappointed the article was so short, because I wanted to hear all about it. Fortunately George Lowe came through town soon after the climb and gave a slide show. It was very memorable. Many of the slides included these ridiculously exposed bivys cut into the knife edged corniced ridges.
marty(r)

climber
beneath the valley of ultravegans
Apr 27, 2009 - 05:31pm PT
Let's see how the new kid on the block fares. It's a hell of a wall.

"Colin Haley, North Ridge of Latok 1, Pakistan; with Josh Wharton and Dylan Johnson. The climbers propose an attempt on this longstanding, oft-attempted (20 attempts) prize of Himalayan Mountaineering, climbed nearly to the summit in 1978. They propose beginning on snow and ice beside the ridge crest, to make quicker progress down low."

(from the Muggs Stump Award site: http://www.bdel.com/mugs_stump/);
Gene

climber
Apr 27, 2009 - 05:34pm PT
Jello with Dengue up there. Boggles my tiny mind. Took me six month to recover from D at sea level. Jello is the MAN.

gm
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
Apr 27, 2009 - 06:40pm PT
Wow, what a line.

Thanks for posting these historical pieces.

yo

climber
I drink your milkshake!
Apr 28, 2009 - 10:33pm PT
Dream team bump


Cut 'n run like little schoolgirls, hehe.
Mimi

climber
Apr 29, 2009 - 01:25am PT
Bump for the big four!

Please tell us a story. Epic!
Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
Apr 29, 2009 - 08:57am PT
Here is the meat of an article I wrote for Rock & Ice, published in issue 157, March 2007.

We arrived in Islamabad on a sweltering day in early June, determined to climb the North Ridge in the best style possible. But first we had to get to the mountain. Lost baggage, bureaucratic formalities and cancelled flights had delayed our arrival in Skardu by a week; the overland route via the Karakoram Highway was still under construction. We had no choice but to place our faith in PIA (Pakistan International Airlines, better known as Please Inform Allah) to get us to the roadhead. Skardu was just the sort of rough, Wild-West outpost that we expected, a collection of less-than-sanitary hovels on a dusty plain at the edge of the Indus River where we spent five days awaiting our baggage. Like mountain people everywhere, the Baltis were incredibly hospitable, but one can only drink so many cups of tea and eat so many chapattis before frustration sets in.

Eventually, we loaded everything into a couple of beater Jeeps and bounced over 50 miles of bad roads to the village of Dasso and the beginning of the approach march.
We hadn’t seen a cloud in days, and the heat was unbearable in the harsh, precipitous desert of the Braldu River Gorge. Each day we started hiking at 3 a.m. so we could sleep through the torrid afternoons. I got dehydrated on the second day, puked all night and barely made it to camp the following evening after a hallucinatory 12-hour death march. At one point I crawled under a rock, the only shade I’d found in miles. Jeff fell ill with some sort of tropical virus for several days. As we were about to leave Askole, the last village, the porters staged the obligatory strike, extorted a few extra dollars from us, and later slaughtered a celebratory goat on the edge of the Panmah Glacier. Thankfully, George and Jim avoided illness, and Jeff and I had pretty much recovered by the time we arrived in basecamp at the end of June.

As the porters disappeared down the glacier, a sense of excitement and apprehension settled over our little group. We were totally isolated; no sat phone, no WiFi, no one else within at least 30 miles. Our only communication with the outside world would have been via the mail runner we’d neglected to hire. The North Ridge dominated the skyline. The climbing looked more reasonable than we had expected, but the scale was a little hard to fathom. This thing was huge, nearly twice as tall as that famed Alpine testpiece, the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses.

We spent three days in basecamp, resting, sorting gear and food, packing, repacking, and wondering what to bring and what to leave behind. Most of our discussion centered around tactics. One look at the mountain confirmed what we had expected before we left the U.S.—the only practical way off was to rappel the route, and that meant bringing a bunch of extra gear. More important was the question of style. We had hoped to climb in pure alpine style, but were prepared to adopt a capsule approach similar to that employed by Boardman and Tasker on Changabang. After much back-and-forth, we decided to take all eight 50-meter ropes we’d brought, to give us flexibility between bivy sites. Food was another matter. Jeff and I thought 12 days’ worth, George and Jim pushed for 20. We settled on 17, and with everything else—the ropes, sleeping gear, tents, stoves, fuel, clothing, crampons, ice axes, runners, carabiners, 60 pitons, assorted nuts and 30 ice screws—we ended up with over 300 pounds to carry. So much for going light and fast!

We were either woefully ill-informed or willfully ignorant of the need to acclimatize, and suffered accordingly, particularly on the first half of the climb. Fortunately, our progress was slow enough that no one became seriously ill. Each day, one pair would lead and fix ropes (the fun part); the other two would follow on jumars, carrying the loads. The climbing was sustained and not terribly difficult, 5.8 or 5.9 with short sections of aid, but the terrain was usually too low-angle to haul on, and for the first few days it took two or three trips to get everything up. The heat and altitude sapped our energy. Temperatures often reached 60 degrees but felt much hotter, and it wasn’t unusual to climb in a T-shirt during the afternoon. We made slow, steady progress until a storm immobilized us at 18,500 feet for three days. Unwilling to give up hard-won ground, we survived on half-rations and hope.

The storm cleared and a long period of good weather followed. We’d been on the route for 10 days. Our loads were lighter now with some of the food gone. As we gained altitude the temperature dropped to a comfortable level, and we encountered more mixed terrain and pure ice. The overall difficulty remained surprisingly consistent, the climbing always thought-provoking, but never desperate. To make the descent easier, we left a couple of ropes fixed across a horizontal corniced ridge at about 21,000 feet.

The higher we got, the worse the campsites became. We slept three nights in the open above the corniced ridge, huddled on tiny ledges hacked out of the ice.
The setting was absolutely stunning. Hundreds of unnamed and unclimbed peaks stretched out toward the horizon, punctuated by the occasional recognizable bulk of K2 and Broad Peak. There was not a sign of life anywhere on the glacier a mile-and-a-half below our feet. At one point or another, we each proclaimed some variation of the same sentiment, that this was the best climb we’d ever been on.

On Day 19 we took what little food remained, maybe three days’ worth, and a bare minimum of equipment, and pushed for the summit. Early that afternoon we arrived at a snowy shoulder, the first place since we left the glacier where we could safely unrope. Jeff and Jim set to work digging a snow cave while George and I fixed two ropes up a steep rock headwall that barred access to the easier snow-and-ice slopes leading to the summit ridge. We were still at least 700 feet from the top but the going looked much easier.

Clouds had been building all day, and as we rappelled back to the shoulder they engulfed us, spewing out thick flakes at a steady pace. Jeff and Jim greeted us with hot tea and warm smiles. We huddled anxiously in the snow cave, wondering what the morning would bring.

Day 20 dawned gray and cold and windy. A foot of snow had fallen overnight. Jeff felt sick. We put off a summit attempt hoping that the weather would clear. That night it snowed another six inches. Jeff felt worse, food and fuel were running low, and the storm showed no sign of dissipating. Decision time. We headed up.


A rope length after the headwall we turned around. We knew we wouldn’t get another chance, but disappointment was soon overshadowed by a greater concern. Jeff felt worse than ever. The symptoms were reminiscent of the virus he’d suffered from on the approach, exacerbated no doubt by altitude, dehydration and exhaustion. Coughing and feverish, aching to his very soul, he was shattered to the point where we feared for his life.

Jim nursed him through the night as the storm continued. Another day crept by. It would take us at least two days to reach the cache of food and fuel we’d left at the last good campsite, halfway up the route. The unspoken question was whether or not Jeff could survive an open bivouac. We decided to wait.

After five nights in the snow cave Jeff’s condition had improved marginally but the weather hadn’t. We were down to a few scraps of food. We divided up Jeff’s gear and headed into the maelstrom, descending 1,500 feet in a 14-hour day of aching limbs, frozen hands and grumbling stomachs. That night, Jeff and Jim occupied one miserable ledge, George and I another, 20 feet below, and spent the night awash in spindrift, sodden sleeping bags pulled up around our shoulders, butts and legs cramping on the uneven perch. None of us wanted to think too much about what Jeff was going through. Jim later confessed that he expected to wake up next to a corpse in the morning. As a comic aside (at least in retrospect) I’d taken off my ice-encrusted sunglasses earlier in the day and now suffered from a mild case of snowblindness: We were the blind leading the infirm. As I eked the last bit of flame out of the stove in my lap, George asked if he could lean against me; a minute later he was fast asleep, proving once again his mastery of this key climbing skill. His peaceful snore was a suitable counterpoint to the gritty ache of my teary eyes.

The clouds began to thin in the morning. Thankfully, Jeff not only felt much better, he was positively chipper. The rappels were straightforward, and late in the afternoon we reached our cache. The first thing we did was to eat, devouring a one-pound tin of peanut butter between us in under three minutes. We collapsed into the tents, relieved that the end was in sight. The last morning dawned clear, and even raging hunger couldn’t dampen our spirits. Late that afternoon we were back in basecamp, 26 days—and a lifetime—after leaving.

In the 28 years since our attempt, I’ve thought often of those days, remembering with great fondness the wonderful simplicity of being focused and present for such a long period of time. What strikes me now is the remarkably calm and respectful attitude with which we approached the climb. George, Jeff, Jim and I played to each others’ strengths. We equally shared the joys of leading and the labor of hauling. We each had our good days and bad, but I don’t recall any horrible temper tantrums or moodiness. We may have been annoyed by someone else’s disgusting habit of slurping soup, or leaving dregs of jam in the peanut butter, or farting just before leaving the tent, but such concerns seemed petty and unimportant and they were quickly forgotten. It seemed as though we’d all suspended our latent selfish/mean/impatient tendencies—at least for a while. We were a team, and remain friends to this day.

I never had any desire to return to Latok. Perhaps I was too lazy to repeat all that hard climbing, or afraid to fail again. I prefer to think, though, that the experience was complete in and of itself, despite the lack of a summit. I learned what I could from the North Ridge, and would eventually apply those lessons to other climbs and to other challenges. For me it is enough for Latok to remain a memory, an ideal once aspired to that still resonates today.

Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
Apr 29, 2009 - 09:00am PT
And here is the history.

Latok I North Ridge
7145 meters/23,441 feet

Latok I, located between the Choktoi and Biafo Glaciers in the Karakoram of Northern Pakistan, is guarded on all sides by steep rock buttresses and hanging glaciers, and presents no obviously safe and easy path to its summit. The North Ridge is the exception, at least as far as safety goes; while there is some danger from serac fall at the base of the route, you pass quickly through the hazard zone, and once on the route you only have to deal with the more manageable risks of cornices, snow mushrooms and technical difficulty.

The route has been tried at least 20 times since we were there in 1978, including multiple attempts by the same climbers. No one has yet reached our high point, poor weather and too much snow being the usual barriers. What will it take for someone to complete the North Ridge? A well-acclimatized team climbing in pure alpine style should be able reach our snow-cave site at about 23,000 feet in four or five days. Another day should suffice to reach the summit and return to this high bivouac, with two more days to complete the descent. Carrying a minimum of seven days of food and fuel and sufficient hardware to rappel such a long route would be brutal but necessary. In the end, luck will probably be a big factor, as the ideal combination of good weather, dry conditions, and sufficiently motivated and skilled climbers will be elusive at best.

With a few exceptions, the attempts on the North Ridge have been in at least as good a style as ours. It is my hope that future parties will continue to treat the route with respect by leaving as little trace of their passage as possible.

The following chronology is as complete as possible given the source material available. I welcome additional details of these or other attempts I may have missed.

July-September, 1975 – A Japanese team led by Makoto Hara circumnavigates the Latok group via the Biafo, Simgang, Choktoi, Panmah, and Baltoro Glaciers. Avalanches and rockfall prevent any significant attempts.

July-August, 1976 – A Japanese team led by Yoshifumi Itatani attempts the couloir between Latok I and Latok III (Latok East), reaching about 18,700 feet before turning back in the face of serac fall.

August-September, 1977 – An Italian team led by Arturo Bergamaschi investigates the route attempted by the Japanese in 1976, but decides it’s too dangerous. They make the first ascent of Latok II from the Baintha Lukpar Glacier.

June-July, 1978 – Americans Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy (Canadian by birth but resident in the United States), Jeff Lowe and George Lowe attempt the 8,000-foot North Ridge, climbing capsule-style and spending 26 days on the route. They reach a high point of about 23,000 feet.

1979 – A Japanese team led by Naoki Takada makes the first (and to date only) ascent of Latok I via the South Face. After a lengthy siege and fixing much rope and three camps on the rock buttress left of the couloir between Latok I and Latok III, six members reach the top on two separate days. June-July.

July, 1982 – British climbers Martin Boysen, Choe Brooks, Rab Carrington and John Yates attempt the North Ridge twice, the second time to a high point of about 19,000 feet.

July, 1986 – Norwegians Olav Basen, Fred Husoy, Magnar Osnes, and Oyvind Vlada attempt the North Ridge, fixing at least 600 meters of rope and reaching a high point of about 21,000 feet after 18 days on the route. They spend another 10 days in heavy snow before giving up.

July-August, 1987 – French climbers Roger Laot, Remy Martin, and Laurent Terray fix rope on the first 600 meters of the North Ridge, and encountering heavy snow, turn back at about 19,700 feet.

June, 1990 – British climbers Sandy Allan, Rick Allen, Doug Scott and Simon Yates, and Austrian Robert Schauer make a number of climbs in the area, but don’t attempt their primary objective due to “the difficult and dangerous snow conditions and the forbidding appearance of the pendulous snow mushrooms adorning the North Ridge of Latok I.”

July-August, 1992 – Jeff Lowe (U.S.) and Catherine Destivelle (France) try the North Ridge, encountering huge snow mushrooms on the route. Carol McDermott (New Zealand) and Andy McFarland, Andy MacNae and Dave Wills (Great Britain) reach about 19,300 feet on the route during two attempts the same summer.

July-August, 1993 – Americans Julie Brugger, Andy DeKlerk, Colin Grissom and Kitty Calhoun attempt the North Ridge, turning back at about 18,000 feet in the face of bad weather.

August-September, 1994 – British climbers Brendan Murphy and Dave Wills try the North Ridge, reaching a high point of about 18,300 feet on their second attempt.

July-August, 1996 – Murphy and Wills return, reaching about 20,000 feet before a dropped rucksack forces retreat. Two subsequent attempts are thwarted at 19,300 feet by poor weather.

August, 1997/1998 – Americans John Bouchard and Mark Richey attempt the route three times, the last with Tom Nonis and Barry Rugo, reaching a high point of about 20,000 feet. Unlike previous expeditions, they report high temperatures and dry conditions, which resulted in “considerable melting and rockfall from high on the face.” They follow the rock pillar from the bottom of the route, finding superb climbing up to 5.10. Bouchard, Richey and Lyle Dean return the following year for another attempt, but never get on the North Ridge due to bad weather.

August, 2001 – Wojciech Kurtyka (Poland) and Yasushi and Taeko Yamanoi (Japan) have a permit for the North Ridge but never attempt it due to poor weather. Stein Gravdal, Halvor Hagen, Ole Haltvik and Trym Saeland (Norway) reach about 20,500 feet after 15 days on the route.

2004/2005/2006 – Twin brothers Willie and Damian Benegas (Argentina) try the North Ridge three years in a row. The first two years they encounter much snow and bad weather during their attempts in June and July; they find drier conditions in
August 2006, but a major storm stops them at about 18,000 feet.

August, 2006 – Maxime Turgeon and Louis-Phillipe Menard (Canada) attempt the futuristic North Face, retreating from 17,400 feet in the face of dangerously warm conditions. They turn their attention to the North Ridge, but are turned back at a similar altitude by deep, fresh snow covering the previously dry rock.

Sources:
The American Alpine Journal (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999)
The Alpine Journal (1991/92, 1993, 1997)
Alpinist (Number 2, Number 4, website story 9/18/06)
High Magazine (#171, 1997; #234, 2002)


SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 29, 2009 - 10:40am PT
Just Amazing!
Thanks Michael.


A truly inspired adventure!
philo

Trad climber
boulder, co.
Apr 29, 2009 - 10:57am PT
Outstanding! Thank you for posting this legendary adventure up. This reminds me of the inspirations that fueled my dreams and ambitions. I so clearly remember when news of this mighty climb came out. Most of us mere mortals were utterly slack jawed by the audacity and brilliance of their effort. Most younger climbers probably don't understand what their style of ascent meant in those days. In those days the standard was huge expeditions sieging slowly upward. Self contained alpine style was in it's infancy and only on smaller peaks. This mighty accomplishment, albeit devoid of a summit, set a benchmark of achievement and style that still stands today three decades later. Bravo to the A Team.
Olihphant

climber
Somewhere over the rainbow
Apr 29, 2009 - 10:59am PT
That goes double ditto for me.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Apr 29, 2009 - 11:00am PT
Thanks Steve and Michael. Brings back memories- most of them painfull.
Riotch

Trad climber
Kayenta, Arizona
Apr 29, 2009 - 11:07am PT
One of those rare and inspiring adventures where the original objective becomes irrelevant, and survival becomes the sweetest victory.
Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
Apr 29, 2009 - 11:23am PT
Jim, Jeff and George were the A team - I was merely hanging on.
Olihphant

climber
Somewhere over the rainbow
Apr 29, 2009 - 11:30am PT
Yeah right!
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Apr 29, 2009 - 11:38am PT
I'll second that- yeah right!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 29, 2009 - 12:13pm PT
This Antonio Machado poem seems appropriate for this thread. Just discovered it a couple of days ago.


"Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing behind
one sees the path. . ."

Antonio Machado

Who had the desire to try Latok first out of the team? Shipton's travels came pretty close, if I recall correctly, to the Latok group.

Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
Apr 29, 2009 - 01:10pm PT
I saw a Shipton photo of Latok I in the mid-70s, but George and Jeff were the ones who got the trip going. Not sure if you were in on the early stages or not, Jim. I was the last one invited on the trip, as I remember. A mere opportunist.

Here's what I wrote about this stellar lot:

As a naïve and relatively inexperienced 26-year-old, I was in awe of my companions. The Utah cousins George and Jeff Lowe were two of my climbing heroes. Deservedly celebrated as the best American alpine climbers of that era, they’d made significant first ascents all over the world, including such visionary climbs as the North Face of North Twin in the Canadian Rockies (George Lowe and Chris Jones, 1974) and Bridalveil Falls in Colorado (Jeff Lowe and Mike Weiss, 1974). At the time I didn’t know Jim Donini very well, but he, too, had a vast wealth of experience, including the first ascent of Torre Egger in Patagonia (with John Bragg and Jay Wilson, 1976). Humble and down-to-earth, yet fiercely committed to an adventurous climbing ethic, these three also brought with them those personal qualities so crucial to a happy expedition: persistence, a willingness to suffer and a sense of humor.
Olihphant

climber
Somewhere over the rainbow
Apr 29, 2009 - 02:01pm PT
A mere opportunistic hanger on?
I'll say it again, YEAH RIGHT!

You four were the inspiration that has fueled the amazing accomplishments of the past few decades. When I stare in awe of the recent accomplishments of luminaries like Garribotti, Haley, Copp, Anderson and House just to name a few I think it is safe to say they can all trace some part of their personal approach to the fantastic four on Latok 1.
So will generations of alpinistas who will follow in footsteps to big to fill.


And big kudos to Steve for posting another fine thread.
Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Apr 29, 2009 - 02:34pm PT
At least Michael isn't claiming to have been the token Canadian or anything. But then, weren't Chouinard's parents Canadian?

A magnificent climb and team, however you look at it.
cliffhanger

Trad climber
California
Apr 30, 2009 - 11:19am PT
Outstanding climb.
Dingus Milktoast

climber
Apr 30, 2009 - 11:39am PT
THE GIFT OF THE TACO.

This thread is one of them. Like Donini's Patagonia thread and tons of others.

Thanks.

DMT
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Apr 30, 2009 - 12:09pm PT
Yeah Dingus, but I guess not many people will post to it since it doesn't discuss religion or politics.


60 degrees!
(thats 140F)

Summer of '78 I thought I was toughing it out climbing in Zion in 50 degrees.
Gawd what a wimp.

Cheers to the team, hope the elbow is healed up Mike.
Reilly

Mountain climber
Monrovia, CA
Apr 30, 2009 - 12:16pm PT
What's there to say after 20 futile attempts that didn't come close to the first other than it must be global warming (wink)?
A seminal effort.
Dingus Milktoast

climber
Apr 30, 2009 - 12:25pm PT
I've long noted a lack of discussion around these kinds of articles, etc. Unless there is controvery, such as with Maestri or Growning Up. Consider your own legendary rc.com Zion thread. etc. Or Potter climbing Delicate Arch.

Tis the controversy that sparks the discussion. After a while all the AWESOME and WELL DONE posts, well, how many of them, for how many threads, how many times.

For those who have posted some good sh#t and then been a bit disappointed in the perceived responses?

Cut yourselves some slack! I bet you far more folks are looking at and appreciating your work than you know.

An autosave feature to an archive with tags for climbing or OT migh be nice though. These things DO disappear fast. A more prolonged exposure would surely spart subsequent comments

Cheers
DMT
Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
Apr 30, 2009 - 01:54pm PT
I lost count, but it was 3 full days of rappelling, the first two in a storm. We wanted to get down, so we weren't hanging around admiring the view.

For some reason rappels always make me nervous.
scuffy b

climber
Bad Brothers' Bait and Switch Shop
Apr 30, 2009 - 02:21pm PT
I'm certainly glad this has come up, and especially stuck around
long enough for me to finally read in full.

Congratulations to all, of course, for undertaking and surviving
this endeavor.

Michael, your writing in the Rock and Ice article is
particularly gripping and absorbing.

Thanks, much.

sm
aguacaliente

climber
May 1, 2009 - 12:05am PT
Two superb renderings of the story. Thanks for posting it, for those of us who wouldn't have been reading Climbing in 1979.

What's the elevation of the base camp in the first picture, that is, how long is the ridge? The 440-foot difference in height between the high point and summit makes it look like the ridge gains about 4000 feet, but from the descriptions I think it must be much longer.
Michael Kennedy

Social climber
Carbondale, Colorado
May 1, 2009 - 12:18am PT
The vertical gain from BC to summit is about 8000 feet, maybe a bit less. Elevation at BC was 15,500 ft. according to our maps at the time. There is some foreshortening in the first photo in the 1979 article. The glacier is pretty flat so you don't gain much height from BC to the bottom of the route.

We did about 80 pitches on the ridge, basically lost track after a while, so the total distance climbed was ... who knows?
RDB

Social climber
way out there
May 1, 2009 - 01:49am PT
Great story and historical perspective. Thanks!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - May 10, 2009 - 01:25am PT
Bump for inspired climbing!
Patrick Sawyer

climber
Originally California now Ireland
May 10, 2009 - 03:43am PT
For some reason rappels always make me nervous.

Me toooooooo.


I remember that article, I still may even have it in a box somewhere.


Awesome.
Off White

climber
Tenino, WA
May 11, 2009 - 02:09pm PT
When I come across a gem of a thread like this I like to bookmark it in a separate folder, that way it's retrievable when it sinks into the Supertopo Tar Pit. This sort of thing, where the FA party chimes in with their input and the gods of my youth are revealed to be ordinary conversational human beings is the thing most unique about this site compared to other climbing boards. Thanks to all ya'll like Jim & Mike who just step up to the plate and tell their stories, it's much appreciated.

Good luck to Colin on this route, a talented and charming individual from the PNW home team.

Oh, and ditto on the rappel anxiety, its a good time to pay close attention.
duncan

Trad climber
London, UK
May 11, 2009 - 03:25pm PT
And up.

"August-September, 1994 – British climbers Brendan Murphy and Dave Wills try the North Ridge, reaching a high point of about 18,300 feet on their second attempt.

July-August, 1996 – Murphy and Wills return, reaching about 20,000 feet before a dropped rucksack forces retreat. Two subsequent attempts are thwarted at 19,300 feet by poor weather."

Brendan was Irish and Dave Wills very much still is a Kiwi, although both were/are UK-based.

Their repeated attempts were the subject of gentle leg-pulling as to when they were going for the Red-Point ...
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 22, 2009 - 10:48am PT
And with a lost sack to boot! I bet they got an earful that didn't empty for a long while! LOL
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 6, 2009 - 01:04am PT
Big time adventure bump!
Jello

Social climber
No Ut
Nov 6, 2009 - 01:32am PT
Missed this first time around. It was my greatest failure - in a positive sense. Normally in my climbing I was used to being the strong one. Then here, on Latok, it was my illness forcing retreat. Two could have gone to the summit, and one could have descended to our high camp with me. But we were the four musketeers, "...all for one and one for all". The high point we reached on Latok was a twin highpoint of my career: the most coherent/compassionate team, and the most personally humbling yet inspiring experience I ever had. In the end, my three great partners would never allow me any guilt over our turning back.

-JelloGetsHighWithALittleHelpFromHisFriends
Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 29, 2009 - 12:21am PT
bump. awesome M.K. comments here.
neebee

Social climber
calif/texas
Nov 29, 2009 - 10:13am PT
hey there say, all... so much to read and learn here... not sure if i saw this a ways back... but i have so much to write, as to my stories, that i can't always read everything, so i have to "dip in and soak up a bit" and then travel on...

very nice stuff to learn here on ol' supertopo though...

thanks so much... seems steve grossman has a lot of great stuff to bump-up here this thanksgiving weekend...

thanks for all the share, you guys... :)


*say, not meaning to neglect others... lots of other nice post, too... and trips... i just can't get to them all, this is kind of an odd season for me... keep posting, folks, even if only a few readers show up---eventually, we find all these treasures.... >:D<
pc

climber
East of Seattle
Nov 29, 2009 - 10:54am PT
Fantastic! What an inspring story. Can't even begin to fathom the suffering though. Nice to have friends in high places.
pc
stich

Trad climber
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Nov 29, 2009 - 11:11am PT
If you were the four Muskateers, which of you was Oliver Reed? Ha.

Bump to keep this up top.
d-know

Trad climber
electric lady land
Nov 29, 2009 - 11:46am PT
pure gold inlaid with platinum
and studded w/ diamonds this
thread is.

aside from an adventure told and
most of the team chiming in,
i really dig what jello sez:
In the end, my three great partners would never allow me any guilt over our turning back.

-JelloGetsHighWithALittleHelpFromHisFriends

and thanks to the archivist who
shared .
Pate

Trad climber
The Lost Highway
Nov 29, 2009 - 01:50pm PT
Michael, or anyone of the other climbers who have experience in the region for that matter, what do you think the chances are of Americans making successful climbing bids now considering the current, and seemingly endlessly degrading political relationships between Pakistan and the US?

Despite the fact that the State Department considers Pakistan to be an ally, it is no secret that the Taliban and Al Qaeda pour into Afghanistan through the rugged, porous Pak/Afgani border, and that the Pakistani military either looks the other way or clandestinely supports these actions. It looks at this point like there will be an increasing troop buildup of international, but mostly US soldiers in Afghanistan with the publicly advertised intention of increased stability in the region, but with a strong intent on controlling Taliban and Al Qeada influence and penetration through the border, if not eradicataion of those organizations and their many splinter groups like Lashkar e'Taiba.

International expeditions rely heavily upon the efforts and goodwill of the local population and the governments of these countries, in f act they couldn't happen without them. Afghanistan has now experienced 8 years of officially declared war by the US, suffering from economic sanctions and civilian lateral damages. These are events that would set any population in the world against any occupying forces. It seems that the isolated mountain villages are crucial for the existence of the enemy forces in each of these mountainous countries, and that the movements of even good natured political-agenda free climbers western climbers, would be tracked and attacked either in retaliation, to set an example or taken as bargaining chips. In my opinion simply traveling in the lawless areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan is far more dangerous than climbing the peaks, where one at the very least has control o f some of the variables

Will it be decades before the memory of the political and personal damage that has been done subsides and Western climbers will be able to penetrate these areas experiencing the goodwill of the population? Is it even feasible to attempt any of these summits? Is it responsible for Western climbers to attempt to fulfill what are comparably self centered climbing efforts in the midst of a population that suffers in unimaginable ways, and who may be retaliated against by groups like Taliban or Al Queda forces for simply sheltering climbers or earning pay to porter loads?

I know that in reality a peaceful climbing expedition that is responsibly carried out can only serve the local population through goodwill efforts and addition to the local economy, if given a chance. Climbers for the most part are pretty darn good ambassadors comparatively.
Pate

Trad climber
Jan 25, 2010 - 09:04pm PT
bump for a real climbing thread.

(the first 30 posts are excruciatingly lame right now.)
nutjob

Trad climber
Berkeley, CA
Jan 29, 2010 - 09:43pm PT
Bump for goodness... I haven't read it all yet but I love what I've read so far.
Pate

Trad climber
Jan 30, 2010 - 12:49pm PT
bump
ydpl8s

Trad climber
Santa Monica, California
Apr 16, 2010 - 02:48pm PT
I don't really think this one can be bumped enough. Especially since Jello is up for the award.
Roxy

Trad climber
CA Central Coast
Apr 16, 2010 - 03:16pm PT
lunch time bump - what a find!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Apr 16, 2010 - 06:00pm PT
Lots of Le-talk about Latok in the most recent Alpinist! Timely Bump!
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 16, 2010 - 06:16pm PT

Bump a dump, Steve. No kidding it is an OUTSTANDING article about
all of the Latok peaks in #30!!!!!
If you don't have it you want to get it!
survival

Big Wall climber
A Token of My Extreme
Apr 16, 2010 - 07:24pm PT
This thread is exactly the kind of important stuff we love superT for!

Great climb.
Adventure.
Drama.
History!

The main players right in here with us!

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 27, 2010 - 09:44pm PT
And how about posting that superb photo of the main players from last weekend!
old toad

Trad climber
yosemite, Ca.
Jul 27, 2010 - 11:48pm PT
This is the kind of post that keeps me looking at SuperTopo...so many of the posts on this site are not worth reading! (not in the least climbing related)... thank goodness for this one.
Ron Skelton
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 29, 2010 - 12:13pm PT
Luxuriously Out to Pasture Bump!

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1228559/Out-To-Pasture-TR
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Aug 7, 2010 - 02:18pm PT
Still holding the high point on this one!

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/1236582/Jello-Donini-Lowe-and-Kennedy-still-have-the-high-point
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Aug 7, 2010 - 03:51pm PT
"We divided up Jeff’s gear and headed into the maelstrom..."

What! Before he was even dead?!

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 7, 2012 - 03:51pm PT
Big Alpine Style Bump to keep Jim's thread company!
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
Oct 26, 2012 - 02:21pm PT
bump for great story and photos

can't believe this thread has 61 posts and political thread over thousands..wow
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Oct 26, 2012 - 03:41pm PT
I heard that Richard Nixon had Jeff "dosed" by the plumbers on the approach.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Oct 26, 2012 - 04:18pm PT
Perhaps a few pictures will help, the few who still climb here are reading impaired.
finally...a decent bivy
finally...a decent bivy
Credit: donini
time for a brew
time for a brew
Credit: donini
[photo
kind of iced up overnight
kind of iced up overnight
Credit: donini
id=270384]
Can we go home?
Can we go home?
Credit: donini
out of here!
out of here!
Credit: donini
But it was pretty up there
But it was pretty up there
Credit: donini

Conrad

climber
Oct 26, 2012 - 06:14pm PT
Thanks Jim. You guys set the bar.
GDavis

Social climber
SOL CAL
Oct 26, 2012 - 06:36pm PT
I wonder what alien species think of Alpinism.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Oct 26, 2012 - 07:15pm PT
I heard Meru climbers might be able to do this climb...

Whatcha think Conrad?

poke poke

hehe
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Oct 27, 2012 - 01:18am PT
Conrad...just saw the Meru film tonight in Gunnison. Beautifully done, a real story with intelligent narrative and, wow, what a climb!
ß Î Ø T Ç H

Boulder climber
bouldering
Nov 20, 2012 - 02:02am PT
... just saw the Meru film ...
NBC had it on last Saturday morning (instead of cartoons).
MATOCO

Big Wall climber
argentina
Dec 10, 2012 - 12:55pm PT
I am Matoco.. I was in the same expd whit Damian and Willie 2005... also big mushroom obligate to go down... but we climb many peaks around waiting for good wheather...
I want share this picture..
almost CII..
almost CII..
Credit: MATOCO
Spanky

Social climber
boulder co
Dec 10, 2012 - 01:01pm PT
Thanks for the rad thread. I saw a slideshow Jim did at Neptunes years ago called epic failures in which he showed a bunch of those photos. It was a great show because he talked a lot about how climbers only show/talk about successful trips and he really talked a lot about how much he learned from these trips even when they didn't get the summit. And the descents sounded terrifying. By the way those guys were BADASS!!
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 10, 2012 - 01:17pm PT
They still ARE badass...
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Dec 10, 2012 - 03:03pm PT
Incredible story, still.

How much human suffering has gone into that ridge anyway????
Gene

climber
Dec 10, 2012 - 03:11pm PT
Incredible story, still.

Amen!! Enhanced by three of the four contributing to this thread. A treasure.

g
10b4me

Boulder climber
Somewhere on 395
Dec 10, 2012 - 03:22pm PT
One of the top five great stories
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Dec 20, 2012 - 11:54am PT
Bump so a Brit can access the info.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 15, 2013 - 10:53pm PT
Pure Adventure Bump...
10b4me

Sport climber
www.tenbeephotography.com
Mar 31, 2014 - 09:24pm PT
Bump
Sanskara

climber
Mar 31, 2014 - 09:31pm PT
Thanks 10b..
SteveW

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Apr 1, 2014 - 04:43pm PT
Back to the top for this one!
Larry Nelson

Social climber
May 12, 2014 - 09:55am PT
Bump. Great comments from three of the participants. This is the heart and soul of ST.
BrassNuts

Trad climber
Save your a_s, reach for the brass...
May 12, 2014 - 11:33am PT
This is an awesome story, just read it again. Incredible and inspirational effort! What a team. Hard core!
TripleS_in_EBs

climber
Poulsbo, WA
Sep 24, 2014 - 08:58pm PT
Given the appearance of these photos on the R&I website, especially the leading photo captioned "one for the annals", it's time to bring the "Latok I Climb Without a Summit" thread back to the forefront.

http://www.rockandice.com/photo-galleries/jeff-lowe-then-and-now?utm_source=contactology&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=

The 1970's boys had some freakish DNA to be taking on the endeavors of their day.
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 24, 2014 - 10:12pm PT
Don't know about the DNA but we did have a pretty good work ethic.
TripleS_in_EBs

climber
Poulsbo, WA
Sep 25, 2014 - 09:43am PT
Might as well just put the photo here if Jim and Jeff do not object. Does this photo not capture the era, the moment, and the attitude?

Latok I. Lowe, Kennedy, Lowe, Donini
Latok I. Lowe, Kennedy, Lowe, Donini
Credit: Donini?
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Sep 25, 2014 - 10:48am PT
I wish the weather was as good today here in Squamish as it was when I took that picture on Latok.
We started climbing in the initial snow/ice gully at midnight to avoid sun triggered avalanches. At dawn we traversed onto good granite and climbed to the ledge pictured above in perfect weather. The weather was so good we slept out in the open for that first night on the route. The next day we moved up to another ledge, saw the high cirrus coming in, set up our tents, and hunkered down for what was to be a six day storm.
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