Americans Climb Latok II and V

By Dougald MacDonald ,

Americans Doug Chabot, Mark Richey, and Steve Swenson made a rapid, alpine-style ascent of 23,400-foot Latok II in Pakistan via its steep southern buttress. This route was first climbed over two weeks in 1977 by an Italian expedition that used almost two miles of fixed rope. The American trio climbed the rock and snow/ice route in a six-day round trip, using no fixed camps or ropes.This is believed to be the first alpine-style ascent of the peak and thefourth ascent overall.The team also made the first ascent of Latok V from the opposite side; Swenson described this as a “pretty easy acclimatization peak” on snow and ice. After a couple of weeks of storms in late August, they made a brief attempt on Latok IV but found dangerous snow conditions and decided to head home.On the northern side of the Latok group, two pairs of climbers attempted the fabled North Ridge of 23,400-foot Latok I. Brothers Damian and Willie Benegas were trying the climb for the third summer in a row. This year they found excellent snow conditions on the route but were beaten down by repeated storms that pinned them in high camp for several days. Canadians L.P. Ménard and Maxime Turgeon attempted both the North Face and the North Ridge, but also were defeated by major storms and close calls with avalanches.The Canadians managed a new rock route on the west face of HAR Pinnacle (ca. 18,000 feet) called Corn Beef Chili à la Wahab (2,000 feet, 5.10) and attempted an unclimbed peak next to Latok III, reaching a col about 500 feet below the summit in a single day, with difficulties up to M7, before slush avalanches sent them down.Comment on this story

Left to right: Latok II, I, III, and V, with the route on the southern buttress marked on Latok II. The Americans also climbed Latok V, on the far right.Photo courtesy of Steve Swenson.

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