/ NEWSFLASH: Latok I North Ridge line by Livingstone, Česen and Strazar
This is an amazing achievement in its own right - in theory, one of the world's Last Great Problems completed. Having said that, can they claim the ridge ascent by "opting for a safer line on the face in the last quarter, rather than risking an integral ascent of the ridge"? Given that I think the previous attempts were to complete the ridge integrale. Fantastic, out-there achievement, all the same.
We're hoping to get in touch with Tom to find out their exact line in the coming days. I've changed the intro line to better reflect the ambiguity. Ben's comment in his other UKC thread hint at what they'll tell us:
'They're not planning on claiming an integral ascent of the ridge, but it has essentially been climbed in what sounds like the most logical manner. Other attempts might have considered this option. If you want to go and do a direct eliminate line via some deathy snow mushrooms and cornices be my guest.
Edit: someone might arrive there in another 30 years and find the upper ridge free of mushrooms and cornices, and climb it direct. But what they have done seems like a sound mountaineering decision to me, and the vast majority of the ridge was ascended.'
As Vince Anderson said when the mist cleared on K7 West and they realised they weren’t on the summit...
Anyway, well done for the edit.
Their decision to take the line they did was at least partly influenced by the fact that two weeks previously the upper mountain provided the scene for the death of a Russian climber, which resulted in the highly publicised rescue of another. Sort of fair enough really.
But ultimately, as stated, they're not pretending it was an integral ascent.
Gripped is often quite inaccurate in their writing, so not sure what to make of their line as drawn here:
But as Luka Lindic has said elsewhere, it would be best if the media held off the claims until the details are known, as it leads to the climbers being criticised if the reality doesn't match the initial hype, and the climbers are in no position to provide such details yet.
Hype can lead to competition, which in these situations can be fatal, and obviously Huber and his mates are en route to try the ridge, which I'm sure all the others there this year would have known.
Yes, the UKC report says the last quarter while that site says the top third - a fair difference! "A safer line on the face" doesn't sound to me like the big traverse shown in that picture - I hope that's not it anyway, as that's not even the ridge let alone a 'ridge integral'.
Yes, a third is quite a bit more than a quarter, in this case:
Keep in mind Ms Piunova is very nationalistic and will want full value credited for wherever the Russians got to!
> Yes, a third is quite a bit more than a quarter.
Has anyone ever climbed the lower rock buttress? That looks like quite a chunk of the ridge too, though it is presumably foreshortened in the photos.
There have actually been a few variant starts on and around that lowest part of the ridge, which is why there's some flexibility needed when talking about the 'integrale' or a 'true' line based on what previous aspirants tried or planned to try.
I only know a couple of people who have been on it but it seems conditions vary quite a bit year to year, and from what MK has said, since their 1978 climb. Some of the variations in the lowest section have been to avoid rock and/or ice fall so I think it's a bit mean for anyone to dictate an ideal line.
Intrigued Michael why you "hope that's not" their line?
None of the 3 climbers has so far claimed to have climbed the North Ridge.
Tom on his first trip to the Himalaya has just climbed a new route on Latok I over 7 days. What an amazing experience that must have been, and how bizarre it seems to me, that whilst he's only just got back to base camp seemingly people, wrapped in the comfort of their homes, are debating on which direction he and his friends choose to climb!
Mountaineering isn't rock climbing - it's an immersive, reactive, experience where you are continuously making judgements based on terrain, weather, time and your team's personal resources. In my opinion obsession with directissimas and other linear or binary thinking is really not a sensible way to be behaving in serious mountains.
If the line in that image is the line taken then that differs greatly from what I'd imagined. Still an impressive ascent but yes it's far from climbing the North Ridge. This is sort of why I wasn't going to post in the forums but when I started seeing posts on Facebook my excitement got the better of me.
I want to make it clear that the first thing Tom said to me was that they didn't make an integral ascent of the ridge and had no intentions of claiming that they had done. Media hype seems to have gotten the better of everyone.
Absolutely. I contributed in my own way by naming my thread in the forums 'Latok 1 north ridge climbed' and I feel a little silly for that, but as I said in my initial post there InReach chat is very limiting and we should let the climbers get back to give us the details.
Whatever the line it sounded like good decision making, especially in the face of recent events, and they will have had an experience that they will never forget.
I don’t think anyone has criticised the climbers? The initial reporting on this site was by Ben who posted a thread entitled “Latok 1 North Ridge climbed”. Based on the details Ben provided this was then rightly questioned. That question received a number of dislikes and nobody came forward in support until UKC had run their news item and it was questioned again there. Natalie had the - I want to say balls but let’s not - backbone to change the wording and also post the reason for it. That really is it.
I’m sure the guys had a valuable personal experience on the mountain and probably made a sensible decision to bail from the ridge. Again, I don’t think anyone’s questioning that? But the line is the line and I’m sure you’ll agree that reporting should reflect that, whether it’s by an individual or a news site.
One other thing I’d like to say is that by calling out - either with comments or dislikes - somebody for questioning a contradictory report you contribute to an intimidating atmosphere on these forums, where people are afraid to voice an opinion for fear of being called an armchair critic or worse. When I read Ben’s initial post I almost replied myself but felt I’d be slated for it. I understand that emotions can play a part in these things when friends or climbing partners are the ones being questioned but it’s maybe something to think twice about in the future.
Anyway, all the best and I’m sure the guys will fill us all in once they’re back and rested.
Just read your posts there after posting mine. Nice one!
Again, apologies for getting ahead of myself and posting what I did. I had limited information, and was excited at my friend having had a big success on his first Himalayan trip. I should have stuck to my instincts and not posted in the forums, or at least worded it differently. My reply to the first suggestion that the ridge hadn't been climbed, the reply Natalie quoted above, was maybe a bit too angry, an emotional reaction towards the (possibly projected) notion that my friends ascent of Latok somehow didn't count. Obviously, it only didn't count as an integral ascent of the North Ridge. And I was the one who claimed that that had happened, not Tom.
Edit: well actually I never claimed that it was an integral ascent, but I made it sound like it.
If anyone is deserving of criticism, it is myself, and likewise others who have inaccurately reported an ascent which the climbers had no intention of claiming.
Nonetheless, amazing achievement, and I can't wait to hear more about it.
I just read your reply to my other post after posting mine. Ha!
Hi Ian, I agree entirely with your comments on mountaineering and the incredible personal experience this ascent will have been for the three guys. However, while I know the climbers themselves have so far not said anything yet, in the absence of first hand information one can only go by what little information there is in the public domain. OK we should show some restraint in jumping to conclusions about what may or may not have been climbed, but then so should the media, and depending on the line climbed the UKC headline may be misleading. That is why I said "I hope", as depending on the line taken this is either a fine ascent of the mountain from the north (OK, an understatement!) or a realisation of one of the most stunning lines around.
Ok understood - I read too much into what you said and thought you might be criticising the climbers. Seems the media almost universally have jumped to too quick a conclusion. Apologies if I came across too strong.
Thanks. That's the trouble with these 'Newsflash'-type reports - they often give more questions than answers!
I sort of feel like this was a bit inevitable given the history of the line. A shame because the ascent feels slightly devalued when it is still an important and historic ascent. But I'm sure it will be recognised as such
Edit: to make myself clear it is the various media articles from gripped etc which have led to it feeling devalued, not the discussion on here, which by UKC standards has been very reasonable.
Some more information from Tom about the ascent is now on the Mountain Equipment website: he emailed this morning.
It's interesting to see Tom L's photo (see instagram) looking head on at the 'ridge' and showing the NW face rather than the classic view from the E side - appears much more complex than the impression of a well defined rock arete. This from Josh Wharton also informative re linking a line up the NW face - the 2018 line looks like manages to stay to left of and then come across above the serac threat seen in Josh W's 2nd photo https://www.patagonia.com/blog/2012/08/latok-northwest-face/
Again - well done to all ( + hope a lot of Slivovka was consumed to celebrate)!
> Keep in mind Ms Piunova is very nationalistic and will want full value credited for wherever the Russians got to!
I spoke to Tom yesterday for the Telegraph. Editor hammed up the headline and sprinkled a fearsome or so in there. There's also a north face in there which should read north side.
Putting that aside, a few more details on the experience of the climb here. A very humble and talented guy and nice to see some mainstream coverage of the team's success.
p.s. you may need to create an account or login via FB to view the piece.
Not sure why the dislikes, I think it's a good article
Possibly because you have to register to read it ? or for the use of 'conquer' (which unfortunately seems obligatory for newspaper articles about mountaineering)
Good article but please tell me the editor also changed your "climbed" to "scaled"! What is it about the press and the word "scale"? Nobody ever seems to actually say that word out loud, it just gets written in papers.
Agreed but for a mountaineering article aimed at the general public I think it's pretty good.
I just registered using Facebook, and unticked all the 'what we share' options apart from the mandatory one.
Possibly because this line isn't true:
"...completed a mountaineering feat described as possibly the climb of this generation."
It was the ridge that was described by Jeff Lowe as the climb of his generation, not this one. And they didn't do the ridge anyway. A great effort, for sure, very sensible, but certainly far from what was envisioned, particularly given what seems to have been the Russian effort.
Of course other lines up each of the faces were talked about, but not 2/3 of the ridge followed by a large traverse around onto the original route.
Such a line is not what got the prize its reputation.
And if that sounds mean, any judgement in my comment is for the reporting - not for the climbers.
Yes, as well as conquer, fearsome, special, danger, plight, impossible ridge, dramatic, 'tamed killer peak' etc.
Ho ho. The tyranny of the sub-ed and all that!
I've never done journalism training, despite having written a fair amount down the years - so I've always presumed there is a special lecture at some point on a BA journalism course or MA media editing or whatever where all the students have to swear that they will only ever use the word "scale" when mentioning climbing.
By the way, from a bit of Googling it seems that Aleš Cesen is the son of Tomo Cesen, but can anyone confirm that? Not sure if that is a common Slovene name or not.
edit: ukc seems to accept š but not a c with the same accent on it.
> it seems that Aleš Cesen is the son of Tomo Cesen, but can anyone confirm that?
I know Tommo was responsible for some dubious mountaineering claims in the past but do we have to cast doubt on *all* his activities of the last 30 years?
I asked Tom and Yes Ales is Tomo's son. I think you'll read all you need to know about Tom's teammates in the interview that's just been posted- excellent.
Lolz! I hadn't thought about it being read that way!
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