The north face of Latok I (7145m), Karakoram, Pakistan. This summer, Giri-Giri Boys Fumitaka Ichimura, Yusuke Sato and Katsutaka “Jumbo” Yokoyama attempted a line on the north face, left, and north ridge, right. On both attempts, the trio was turned back by warm conditions and falling debris. [Photo] Giri-Giri Boys collection
The Giri-Giri Boys call it quits after encountering a long procession of fragile snow mushrooms on Latok I’s north ridge. [Photo] Giri-Giri Boys collection
As reported in the August 6, 2010 NewsWire, Japanese phenoms Fumitaka Ichimura, Yusuke Sato and Katsutaka “Jumbo” Yokoyama attempted two of the most sought-after unclimbed objectives in the world of alpinism: the north ridge and north face of Latok I (7145m) in Pakistan’s Karakoram. Soft snow and sketchy ice conditions thwarted both attempts; more information on their efforts is detailed below.
Beginning at 1 a.m. on June 20, the trio climbed 18 pitches up the north face in a 21-hour effort. They encountered two pitches of 90-degree ice and mixed climbing at the crux. Just past the wall’s halfway mark, they bivouacked under a rock band and contemplated the frighteningly thin ice they had climbed below–and the unstable serac high above. In the morning, they retreated down the north face amid a relentless deluge of falling snow, ice and rock, said Hiroshi Hagiwara on behalf of Yusuke Sato.
Following the climbers’ safe return to base camp, poor weather plagued the expedition for 16 days. Skies finally cleared on July 9, and the climbers seized the opportunity to attempt Latok I’s north ridge. The pitches went by smoothly until the sun hit the ridge at 7 a.m. The trio was once again bombarded with debris and Sato’s helmet was dented by a large chunk of falling ice. By noon the barrage slowed, but soggy snow conditions made finding a safe belay point impossible. The team bailed at the same elevation as their highpoint on the north face, circa 5900 meters.
For more on the climbing history of the Latok Group, read the Mountain Profile in Alpinist 30.
The Giri-Giri Boys tread lightly on thin ice. [Photo] Giri-Giri Boys collection
Contemplating Latok I’s north face. [Photo] Giri-Giri Boys collection