Alpinists at Large: 1978 Attempt on the North Ridge of Latok I
In 1978, an elite team of American alpinists set off for an unclimbed peak in the remote mountains of Pakistan. The infamous attempt is now considered one of the greatest failures in the history of American alpinism.By American Alpine Club | June 11th, 2020
“All of us shared that sense of vision of what could possibly be done with a small group of climbers, as light as we could, and as fast as we could.” —George Lowe
In 1978, an elite team of American alpinists set off for an unclimbed peak in the remote mountains of Pakistan. The infamous attempt is now considered one of the greatest failures in the history of American alpinism.
It’s rare that a “failure” becomes so revered. The style in which the 1978 Latok I team approached the north ridge, and the commitment they showed to each other, rather than success, remains a shining example of values in alpinism.
In the decades following the 1978 American expedition, dozens of other teams attempted the north ridge.
In the summer of 2018, the Russian team of Alexander Gukov and Sergey Glazunov set a new highpoint on the north ridge—possibly even finishing the ridge proper— but turned back before reaching the summit. Glazunov died on the descent.
Later that summer, the Slovenian-British team of Aleš Česen, Luka Stražar and Tom Livingstone made the second overall ascent of Latok I and the first from the north side (they traversed to the south face on the upper third of the mountain). They won a Piolet d’Or for their ascent.