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New Route on Latok II

The route of Theoreme de la Peine (M5, ED-, 2000m) as climbed by Antoine Bletton, Pierre Labbre, Mathieu Maynadier and Sebastien Ratel. [Photo] Bletton-Labbre-Maynard-Ratel

Opening the Karakoram summer season with a bang, Frenchmen Mathieu Maynadier (nominated for a Piolet D’or in 2011 with his team ascent of The South East Face of Lunag I), Bletton Antoine, Pierre Labbre and Sebastien Ratel (also nominated for the 2011 Piolet D’Or) successfully climbed a new line up the southwest face of Latok II (7108m), between June 2 and June 5. With their difficult ascent, they established the fifth route up the peak.

Pressured by bad weather and inclement conditions, the French team spent just one night acclimatizing at 5800m before retreating to basecamp on Saturday, June 2. However, spurred on by an encouraging forecast, the team quickly gathered gear and departed from camp the same day that they had arrived. The group eventually spent their first night organizing a minimal amount of supplies below Latok II’s bergschrund.

Below the massive south west face of Latok II. [Photo] Bletton-Labbre-Maynard-Ratel

On June 3 at 6 o’clock in the morning, the Frenchmen geared up for the climb that would become “Theoreme de la Peine” (2000m, M5, ED-). According to the climbers’ personal blog “[they] put together the first 500 meters” of the slope quickly; a section that the team described as “impressive.” From here, they traversed a section of snow in order to reach a “large corridor.” However, at hour twenty, the French were forced into a snowy bivouac. During a bad night spent sitting directly on the ice, the team conspired to retreat to basecamp in the morning. But with the new sun, the climbers decided to continue upwards.

The team linked two lengths of easy snowfields and a final mixed pitch before reaching the route’s last technical wall. After an additional eighteen hours of difficult climbing, they established their second bivouac at 6800m, on a high snowfield nearly atop Latok II’s southwest face.

Mixed climbing during the ascent. [Photo] Bletton-Labbre-Maynard-Ratel

On day three, after twelve hours of climbing, the team reached the summit ridge above 7000m. Although only 100m of altitude separated the team from the south summit, deep snow along the ridge slowed their travel. Four hours later, all four climbers stood arms held high atop their new line. Celebrations were concise and the team made for a speedy retreat down the route, successfully circumnavigating the impending end of their positive weather window.

The men broke basecamp immediately and are catching up on sleep in Islamabad.

A quick photo taken during the descent. [Photo] Bletton-Labbre-Maynard-Ratel

Theoreme de la Pein is the fifth route on the second of the Latok peaks. In 1977 Don Arturo Bergamaschi launched an assault on the Southeast Buttress of Latok II. Although Bergamaschi himself only reached Camp 5 (6680m), it was the trio of fellow teammates Ezio Alimonta, Renato Valentini and Toni Mase who would finish the first ascent. Roughly twenty years later, a team comprised of Alex and Tomas Huber, Conrad Anker and Tony Gutsch would establish, “Tsering Monsong” (VII 5.10 A3) on the southwest face. While Franz Fendt and Christian Schlesener climbed a new route, Nomadu, in semi-alpine style. Then, in 2009, a team comprised of Alvaro Novellon and Oscar Perez reached the summit via the Northwest Ridge. Perez was injured in a fall during the descent. Despite Novellon’s efforts Perez perished on the peak. For the complete history of the peak see the Latok Mountain Profile in Alpinist 30.

The team at the end of their climb. [Photo] Bletton-Labbre-Maynard-Ratel

Source: Mathieu Maynadier