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with Stefan Nestler

Slovenian-British trio succeeds coup on 7000er Latok I

Luka Strazar, Tom Livingstone, Ales Cesen (from l. to r.)

It is one of this year’s most spectacular successes on the highest mountains in the world: The two Slovenians Ales Cesen (36 years old) and Luka Strazar (29) and the British Tom Livingstone (27) managed the only second ascent of the 7,145-meter-high, extremely difficult Latok I in the Karakoram – the first ascent from the north side at all. Since the legendary first attempt in 1978 by the Americans Jeff and George Henry Lowe, Michael Kennedy and Jim Donini via the North Ridge, who were forced back by a storm about 150 meters below the summit, this task had been a too hard nut to crack for about 30 expeditions. ”The ridge itself remains a challenge for the future,” said Tom Livingstone modestly in an interview with the British Mountaineering Council (BMC).

Deviated from the North Ridge

The route of the successful trio

In the upper part of the mountain the trio left the North Ridge, climbed over an ice field to the right towards the West Col and then crossed to the left through the North Face to the highest point. “Our priority was climbing the mountain from the north side, doing that via the ridge was the second priority,” Tom said. For safety reasons, they decided to deviate from the route via the ridge. Livingstone recalled in this context the fatal fall of Russian climber Sergey Glazunov while abseiling from the upper part of the North Ridge and the subsequent helicopter rescue of his team mate Alexander Gukov. The trio had followed the drama of the two Russians during their acclimatization phase.

“Scottish conditions” at the summit

Strazar in the middle part of the North Ridge

Tom reported on consistently poor bivouac sites on small ledges in the snow: “We didn’t sleep much over six nights on the mountain. In terms of difficulty it wasn’t super-hard but the length of the route, the altitude and the sleeplessness made it feel very strenuous.” According to Livingstone’s words, there were “Scottish conditions” at the highest point of Latok I: very snowy with poor visibility. “There was no enthusiastic celebration at the summit, because we knew that we had only managed the half way,” expedition leader Ales Cesen reported in an interview with the broadcaster RTV Slovnija. “Only when we were back on the glacier below the wall, we shouted with joy and hugged.”

“More than just well done”

Luka just before the point where the route bends off the north ridge

German top climber Alexander Huber – who was tackling at the same time together with his 27-year-old compatriot Fabian Buhl the South Buttress of the 6166-meter-high Choktoi Ri, located near Latok I (both want to report their experiences shortly) – bows to Cesen’s, Strazar’s and Livingstone’s performance. “More than just well done,” the 49-year-old commented on the success on Instagram.

His older brother Thomas Huber (51) was at the time of the coup by the Slovenian-British trio with his climbing partners Rainer Treppte (59), South Tyrolean Simon Gietl and French cameraman Yannick Boissenot still on their way to Latok I. Their destination too: the northern side of the seven-thousander. Before their departure, Thomas had left open to me whether they wanted to tackle the North Ridge or the also still unclimbed North Face.

P.S.: Because of my vacation, which has meanwhile unfortunately ended, this report comes a few days later than you are used to from me. 😉


22. August 2018 | 22:47