Alpine climbing

RunOut #5 Michael Kennedy and the North Ridge of Latok I

In July of 1978, after climbing all but a few hundred feet of the 8000-foot-tall North Ridge of Latok I in Pakistan, Michael Kennedy, Jim Donini, George Lowe, and a fatefully ill Jeff Lowe chose to descend shy of the unclimbed summit. What was subsequently dubbed the “magnificent failure” was soon held up as a futuristic alpine climb done in the best possible style. The mountain itself was climbed a year later via the south face in antiquated siege style.

The North Ridge repelled more than 30 attempts over the next 40 years by some of the best in the business.

This summer, 2018, two important developments – one tragic and one triumphant – may have left the quest for the North Ridge all but satiated.

Michael Kennedy joins us today to reflect on his ascent in 1978 and discuss the climbs this summer of both the North Ridge and the second ascent of the mountain. I’m Chris Kalous with Andrew Bisharat, and you are listening to the Runout.

And if because of technical problems, I sound like I’m stuck in a well, be assured that Michael Kennedy does most of the talking and the rumble of his baritone is like listening to the North Ridge itself speak from the heights.