Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Karakoram 2011: Big Walls Conquered, Summit Bids Stymied
Yesterday I mentioned that news out of the Karakoram has been a bit slow so far this year, but that teams were arriving in Base Camps and that things would pick-up soon. Turns out that was a prophetic, if obvious, thing to say, as we have news today of a major success in the mountain range, as well as an early summit bid that was turned back.
First, the British Mountaineering Council is reporting that four Russians have claimed the first ascent of the West Face of Latok III. The team, which includes Evgeny Dmitrienko, Ivan Dozhdev, Alex Lonchinsky and Alexander Odintsov, spent 15 days on the wall, from June 10th to the 25th, before successfully topping out. Latok III is a 6949 meter (22,798 foot) peak located in Pakistan, and the West Face is a 5580 foot big wall that is considered one of the most challenge climbs in the world. Reaching the top puts an end to an 11-year quest, led by Odintsov, to finish a route that was first explored by an Italian team back in 1988. (Tip of the hat to Outside Online for sharing this story)
Meanwhile, over on Broad Peak, an audacious young French climber by the name of Sophie Denis attempted to nab the summit quickly this season, but was turned back by high winds at Camp 3. Sophie is climbing with Lakpa Sherpa and only had arrived in Base Camp a few days before their alpine style ascent. The fixed lines are only up to Camp 2 at this stage, but the two climbers were hoping to take advantage of the acclimatization from the Himalaya this past spring, during which Lakpa summited Everest, and Sophie knocked off Cho Oyu and Lhotse within two weeks of one another.
Now back in BC, they'll wait for a better opportunity to climb the mountain. Reading the report on their attempt however, you can't help but wonder what the rush was. Do they have designs on another peak this summer, say maybe K2? Guess we'll have to wait and see.
Lots of teams are expected to begin reporting in soon as Base Camps start to fill up. Expect more regular reports in the days ahead.