Latok I North Ridge line by Livingstone, Česen and StrazarNewsflash

© Aleš Česen

A British-Slovenian team consisting of Tom Livingstone, Aleš Česen and Luka Strazar have made the coveted first ascent of Latok I (7145m) in the Pakistan Karakoram from the North. According to early reports from the team, they opted for a safer line on the face in the last quarter, rather than risking an integral ascent of the north ridge. The ascent took 7 days from Base Camp to Base Camp. More details on their line to follow.

A brief message posted on the Choktoi 2018 expedition page on the Planinska Zveza Slovenije (Slovenian Mountain Union) website reads:

Saturday, August 11, 2018
Aleš, Tom and Luka returned to the base a few hours ago, we climbed a new route on the north ridge and went to the top of Latok 1. Next ... sleep.

The route has eluded over 30 expedition teams including top mountaineers since 1978 and was recently the scene of a tragic accident and miraculous rescue, when Sergei Glazunov fell to his death during an abseil and his partner Alexander Gukov was rescued by the Pakistan Army after 6 days stranded on the face in harsh conditions.

The summit of Latok I had only previously been reached once by a Japanese team climbing from the south side in 1979. US alpinist Jeff Lowe - part of the first team to attempt the line in 1978 - described the north ridge of Latok 1 in the Alpinist essay 'Unclimbed' as 'the unfinished business of the last generation.'

This was Tom's first Himalayan expedition.

Watch this space for more information.

Tom successfully applied for a BMC expedition grant and received the highest grade award.

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13 Aug, 2018

Nice work!

13 Aug, 2018

In reply to UKC News

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.

13 Aug, 2018

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.' 

14 Aug, 2018

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. 

14 Aug, 2018

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.


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