New Information Suggests Russians Finished North Ridge of Latok I
An account provided by Alexander Gukov sheds new light on just what he and the late Sergey Glazunov accomplished on the mountain before their expedition took a tragic turn.
The reporting about Latok I over the past month—first on the Russians Alexander Gukov and Sergey Glazunov, and then on the British Tom Livingstone and Slovenians Aleš Česen and Luka Stražar—has been confusing. After Glasnov fell to his death toward the top of the North Ridge leaving Gukov stranded and in need of a rescue, there was limited information about their climb. After Livingstone, Česen and Stražar made the second ascent of Latok I, news outlets, including Rock and Ice, jumped the gun and erroneously reported the team had climbed the full North Ridge, when in fact, according to a recent Facebook post by Livingstone, they had climbed three-quarters of it, at which point they traversed the col between Latok I and II and reached the summit via the south side. (Check back for an interview with Livingstone about their ascent in the next couple of days!)
Now, new revelations in a trip report authored by Gukov on Mountain.ru suggest that the North Ridge has indeed been climbed in full, but that the full route to the top—adding just a 360-meter saddle from the top of the ridge to the true summit—remains unfinished.
Gukov writes that at 2:40 pm, July 23, his GPS reading was 6,980 meters. This was the last time he checked it, but he and Glazunov continued climbing until past 7:00 pm. Translated with the aid of Google, Gukov’s article reads, “By 19:00, Sergey climbed … between a small rock cap and a snowy [serac]. I stood below ten meters. The snow was almost vertical.” With difficult snow conditions and deteriorating weather, the duo began descending that night after believing they had reached the summit. Gukov continues, “Due to …the inability to see anything higher around, [Glazunov] declared it to be the peak [summit].”
During the first part of the descent, Gukov began to have doubts about whether Glazunov had indeed reached the true summit. Glazunov remained convinced he had, so the two decided each would report his own opinion.
In a message to Rock and Ice, Anna Piunova, editor of Mountain.Ru, confirmed that Gukov believes he and Glazunov finished the North Ridge but that they failed to reach the summit, while Glazunov believes they succeeded on both counts. “It was getting dark, the weather was bad and they didn’t have any bivy gear,” Piunova said of Glazunov’s final leads. Gukov “reflected a lot during 7 days [stranded] on the ledge and decided it was the top of the North Ridge. Sergey stated that he reached the summit, but Alex thinks that they reached the top of North Ridge not the summit.”
Glazunov fell to his death two days later after the team turned around.
So did Gukov and Glazunov definitely finish the North Ridge? Did they complete the entire route and reach the summit, or just the ridge itself? Without further evidence from Glazunov—which we will never get—we may never know definitively, or at least not until another team completes the route.
Latok I Finally Climbed from the North!
[UPDATE: SAVED!] Russian Climber Alexander Gukov in Peril on Latok I, Rescue Operation in the Works
No Summit No Cry: The Legendary 1978 American Expedition to Latok I