Trip Report
Donini, Lowe, Kennedy, Lowe - Latok 1
Monday October 25, 2010 12:28pm
Some of our legendary climbers, on a pretty legendary climb.

A story of guts and toughness. A survival story of sorts!!

I felt that these pictures were worth putting in both places.

I'll let the man himself be in charge of the story telling, if he chooses.

North Ridge of Latok 1, with team members in foreground.

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Climbers, left to right, Jeff Lowe, George Lowe, Michael Kennedy.

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New commentary from Donini:
"The ridge starts at 15,000 feet and goes to 23,500 feet. With
the usual twists and turns of a route, over 10,000 feet of climbing at
altitude is involved. In 1978 nothing of this magnitude had been tried in
anything but expedition style and likely nothing with this amount of
continuous technical difficulty had been attempted period.
We climbed capsule style with two climbers pushing the route with the
other two getting the loads up and switching responsibilities on a daily
26 days were spent on the climb due to the continuous nature of the
climbing and the two six day storms that impeded progress. Unfortunately
the two weeks supply of food that we brought proved insufficient and led
to a phrase I used years later during a storm high on Cerro Torre;
"survival is not assured."
I believe that the technical difficulties were pretty much behind us and
despite the bad weather and exhaustion we would have summited if Jeff had
not had become ill.
The four day descent, in storm until the last day, was an epic requiring
85 raps and devious traversing. Needles to say we had to get very creative
in regards to rap anchors.
I still don't think anyone has gotten to within 2000 feet of our high
point. This surprises me given that there have been over two dozen
attempts by teams possessing superior knowledge, equipment and ability.
Every year I think that this will be the year the damn thing gets
finished- I'll be the first one to applaud the successful effort."

George Lowe in good weather low on the route. Low on the route?? Look at that exposure and drop off!

"There was no stopping George. Here is raring to go just after sitting out a 5 day storm low on the route."

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New Commentary From Donini:
"The climb was George's idea, he had seen a black and white
photo of the ridge taken by Shipton and Tillman during their epic traverse
of the Karakorum range. We were likely the second group of westerners to
visit the cirque."

Michael Kennedy, with the Ogre in the background.

"Michael was unflappable throughout the climb.
As far as I know Peak 6980 just left of the Ogre is still unclimbed."

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New Commentary From Donini:
"Michael was a joy to climb with- the word unflappable comes to

Jim Donini, looking like a POW!!

"Me at our highest bivy after many days of little food. A very ill Jeff next to me. We spent 26 days on the route with 14 days of food. Fritz wondered if I lost weight."

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New Commentary From Donini:
"In the one and only snow cave we were able to build- it likely
saved our butts. You can see what a starvation diet will do to someone
with my high metabolic rate- it took me 6 months to fully recover. A very
ill Jeff Lowe is lying next to me. The cave is three hundred feet below
our high point."

Jeff Lowe working on a rather exposed bivouac.

"Jeez, I think that Latok1 is far more interesting than whether or not A5 exists- seems people here don't agree."

Pithy indeed. I agree with mean Jim.

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New Commentary From Donini:
"Jeff hard at work constructing a platform for a comfortable but
airy bivouac at the end of the knife edge ridge."

"The first traverse. 800 feet and scary seracs.
Committing and strenuous to get the gear across. We now felt fully engaged.'

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New Commentary From Donini:
"George far out on the first traverse, 800 arduous feet under
creaking, unstable ice mushrooms- phew!"

Jeff Lowe on the knife edged ridge, approaching what would become one of the best bivy sites on the climb.

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New Commentary From Donini:
"Jeff following my lead of the last pitch of the knife edge ridge.
Jeff's climbing ability and work ethic were a wonder to behold."

I hope this helps keep this historic climb visible for awhile!

  Trip Report Views: 23,894
About the Author
survival is a big wall climber from A Token of My Extreme.


  Oct 25, 2010 - 12:33pm PT
Thanks for putting all these gems in one place.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Oct 25, 2010 - 01:24pm PT
Thanks survival for formatting this, I'm still in Ouray (it's snowing) and wont leave for the desert until tomorrow or wed. I'll send you some pithy comments to insert.

Trad climber
Stockholm, Sweden 🇸🇪
  Oct 25, 2010 - 01:28pm PT
Those helmets look like they weigh 10 pounds....thanks for the pics.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Author's Reply  Oct 25, 2010 - 01:42pm PT
Awesome Jim. I have some errands to run, but I will be glad to slide in commentary next to any photo that you're interested in commenting more about.

Bring it on!!

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Oct 25, 2010 - 02:05pm PT

(not many of my partners from the '70s around, pretty cool that these guys are still with us, with 3 of them posting on the taco as well)

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Author's Reply  Oct 25, 2010 - 03:18pm PT
Jim, thanks for sending some fresh commentary along. You'll see it posted above.
I'm happy to add or adapt any of the commentary you have sent. Keep it up!

Ron, thanks for adding a photo of your amazing gang!

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Oct 25, 2010 - 03:22pm PT
Thanks survival, did you get the rest of my copy?

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Author's Reply  Oct 25, 2010 - 03:27pm PT
I'll go look!

Edit: Better?

  Oct 25, 2010 - 03:32pm PT

Thank you

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Oct 25, 2010 - 03:48pm PT
Thanks survival- you have it all.
mike m

Trad climber
black hills
  Oct 25, 2010 - 04:42pm PT

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Oct 25, 2010 - 04:46pm PT

Mountain climber
13,000 feet
  Oct 25, 2010 - 04:51pm PT

the same reports come in over and over for Jeff, and Mike.

No matter what the circumstance, talented and delightful people.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Oct 25, 2010 - 05:16pm PT
Don't forget George. He works a tight schedule as the father of two teenage girls and as a scientist and still gets out and rips. George and I have done trips to the Sierra the last two years and have climbed the Evolution Traverse, Positive Vibrations, Dark Star and others.

Trad climber
  Oct 25, 2010 - 05:27pm PT
great! thanks.

Oakland, CA
  Oct 25, 2010 - 07:58pm PT
Wild, wild, wild - thank you!

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Oct 25, 2010 - 08:34pm PT
Survival! Thanks for doing this thread on Trip Reports after the curmudgeon ------I mean Jim didn’t move it on his own.

And------Jim: Thanks for extra fascinating commentary you added. It would be world-class great if Jello, George, or Mike could chime in too!

Donini was working as the Northwest sales rep for Wilderness Experience when he did the Latok trip. I saw the slide show soon thereafter, either in Leavenworth or Moscow, Idaho.

He’s always been skinny, since I’ve known him. After the trip: he was “gaunt,” “emaciated,” and constantly nibbling on some food.
I didn’t ask if he lost weight-----duh. I asked “how much weight?”

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Oct 25, 2010 - 08:54pm PT
so cool!

  Oct 25, 2010 - 09:51pm PT
Oh Yeah!!

Mountain climber
Wilson, Wyoming
  Oct 25, 2010 - 10:30pm PT
One of climbing's greatest achevements=not reaching the summit of Latok I. ...after so many years, and multiple attempts, STILL the highest point reached!


Thanks Survival.

I attended a Jello slideshow sometime around 1999 in St. George, UT. The photos of this route and so many others (solo of the Eigerwand...) were so inspiring. A cherished memory. Thank you Jeff for being such an inspiration to me and so many others.

Ron, remeber that slide show? You had some hot ladies with you... HA!


Trad climber
  Oct 26, 2010 - 01:18am PT
Amazing climbers, route, pictures, and effort!

Cool picture of Jeff Lowe (unroped?) carving out a bivy on top of the knife-edged ridge with tremendous exposure on either side (reminds me of the cartoon of someone sitting on the limb of a tree and sawing the limb between the sitter and the tree).

And that picture of George Lowe with its understated old caption: "The first traverse. 800 feet and scary seracs. Committing and strenuous to get the gear across. We now felt fully engaged."

And with its new understated caption: "George far out on the first traverse, 800 arduous feet under creaking, unstable ice mushrooms- phew!" Incredible.

Thanks for posting this TR.
Johnny K.

  Oct 26, 2010 - 01:42am PT
The most amazing thing about this specific historic adventure is seeing all of you guys who were there/around the same era talk about it in this day and age.

From wiki:

All of the summits are notable for their extreme technical difficulty, and they have been the scene of some of the hardest climbing done at high altitude anywhere in the world.

Latok I
Elevation 7,145 m (23,442 ft) [1]
Prominence 1,475 m (4,839 ft) [1]
Location Northern Areas, Pakistan
Range Panmah Muztagh, Karakoram
Coordinates 35°55′41″N 75°49′21″E / 35.9280°N 75.8225°E / 35.9280; 75.8225
First ascent July 19, 1979 by Sin'e Matsumi, Tsuneo Shigehiro, Yu Watanabe[2]
Easiest route East Ridge from south side

Latok I was first climbed in 1979 by a Japanese expedition led by Naoki Takada; the first summit party comprised Sin'e Matsumi, Tsuneo Shigehiro, Yu Watanabe, and they were followed three days later by Hideo Muto, Jun'ichi Oku, and Kota Endo. They started from the Baintha Lukpar Glacier and climbed a buttress to reach the East Ridge.

The steep North Ridge of Latok I, 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high, is a notorious unclimbed route: it was first attempted, and almost successfully climbed, by the noted American climbers Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy, George Lowe, and Jeff Lowe. The lightweight style of this climb was widely admired, despite the lack of a summit. Many unsuccessful attempts have followed.**
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Oct 26, 2010 - 07:37am PT

"Do you think we spent too much time at altitude?"


Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Author's Reply  Oct 26, 2010 - 11:43am PT
Really good posts you all.

Of course, the climb and it's relevance are huge, but what is most important to me is that we have had 3 of those guys as pretty regular participants on ST.

Living history right here among us.

Just another way to show Jim, Jello, and Michael how much we appreciate them.

I have been hugely frustrated with watching the more humble TR's fall away so quickly. I have a good record on this. I can look back and see that I often posted more than once to even the most n00bish TR's. If they were falling because better TR's were popping up all the time, so be it. But instead they fall because of BS backbiting threads.

I definitely don't want Donini to ever feel like not posting up and old school TR because of our behavior here.

I was just telling him that I was doing well to do 150 pitches in the last couple years. He shot back with "I do a thousand pitches a year."

Sweet jeebus, long live Donini.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Oct 26, 2010 - 04:00pm PT

",.. so I said to the optician that the lenses need to color co-ordinate to my lawn chair,.."

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Oct 26, 2010 - 05:01pm PT

Girls like blondes too.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Author's Reply  Oct 26, 2010 - 10:57pm PT
Oooooooo Jim, I thought you might be holding out on a few more images......

With the occasional Ron comment thrown in, looking good!

  Oct 26, 2010 - 11:01pm PT
Bluet stoves?

Sport climber
Almost to Hollywood, Baby!
  Oct 26, 2010 - 11:31pm PT
85 raps... I'm guessing it went something like this:

"Who's going to take off their pants and sit in the snow this time so we can form another ice ball to rap off of?"

"Rock Paper Scissors, on the count of three..."

"OK I'll freeze my nuts off, but at least I get to wipe my ass finally and then get a hip belay from you, while you have to rap off that sucker!"

after regrouping at the next station...

"Ok duck, I'm yanking the rope with the ice ball frozen onto it now!"

"Who has to chip off the ice ball this time?"

"I ain't touching it, you stuck your ass on it!"

"Hey careful! Don't chop that rope again!"

Repeat 84 more times...

dont make me come over there
  Oct 27, 2010 - 03:10am PT
This is what we need more of on this site, CLIMBING. I love listening to stories like this, climbs bigger and scarier and hairier than anything I even daydream about doing, from a guy like donini who eats this stuff for breakfast. Jim. DUDE. whew, more please.

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Author's Reply  Oct 27, 2010 - 07:50pm PT
That's a great post nutjob!

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Oct 28, 2010 - 12:40pm PT
Here's a link to an Alpinist Magazine report on expedition failures on N. Ridge of Latok 1.

You gents still have the high-point after countless tries by others.

Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 29, 2010 - 10:25am PT
Awesome summary, thanks survival!

  Nov 1, 2011 - 05:12pm PT
bump the bejesus outta this!

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
  Nov 1, 2011 - 11:41pm PT
So close . . .

Epic effort.


Trad climber
Punter, Little Rock
  Nov 1, 2011 - 11:55pm PT
Nice. Nice. The team is truly hard.

Big Wall climber
Republic, WA
  Nov 2, 2011 - 02:04am PT
So cool.

Trad climber
Cascade Mountains and Monterey Bay
  Nov 2, 2011 - 02:57am PT
any way you look at it; this is a climb that defines the sport

Trad climber
Wolfeboro, NH
  Nov 2, 2011 - 07:01am PT
Yes, and all the team members who are still able to climb, are still out there doing it with style.

Trad climber
  Nov 2, 2011 - 10:07am PT
bring out more photos!

Trad climber
going big air to fakie
  Nov 2, 2011 - 10:59am PT

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Author's Reply  Nov 2, 2011 - 11:00am PT
Largo, maybe you can interview those guys and write a tale about it?
Vitaliy M.

Mountain climber
San Francisco
  Nov 2, 2011 - 11:09am PT
I think I read this TR for the third time in the last month....

Trad climber
San Francisco, CA
  Dec 6, 2011 - 02:25pm PT
BUMP! Just read a book on K2 and have a new found appreciation and respect for high altitude climbing. Love the style of the Donini/Kennedy/Lowe/Lowe team. So pure. Summit or no summit, you all came back alive to tell the story and inspire a generation.

Social climber
London, Paris, WV & CA
  Dec 6, 2011 - 02:52pm PT
This is wonderful - and deserves to stay on top of the pile for a long time - Its great to know that there is still so much unclimbed rock out there as well.

Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
  Dec 6, 2011 - 02:57pm PT
Looking back on my 43+ years of climbing if I had to pick out the most fulfilling climbs that I had experienced then at least three of them would be of unsuccessful attempts.

The most recent of those would have been 5 years ago nearly to the day.
My partner truly impressed me when, after taking a leader fall at the start of a pitch, he pulled himself together and swarmed back on it and finished it before we elected to back off.

You see, what was inspirational about it was that my partner was Jeff, and it had been hard enough for him just to get to the base of the wall.

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Feb 16, 2014 - 12:09am PT
I ran across this ad in the Sept 1978 issue of Mountain Magazine. The Dear Greg & Jim are the Thomsen brothers, at the time, the owners of Wilderness Experience. Donini was their NW SalesRep.

Click on photo for a larger image.

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
  Feb 16, 2014 - 12:07am PT
Loved reading both the TR and all of the comments/stories. Thanks for bumping, Fritz!

Social climber
Mammoth Lakes, CA
  Feb 18, 2014 - 09:52am PT
Great story! And fun to see the advertisement, that was a long time ago! And still unclimbed!

Working with Donini was always an experience and a joy. So many great stories, like the ledge on the top of the Drake Hotel in Chicago....

Hey Jim, I hope we can get together next time I'm in the US.
I'm in Borneo right now, but will be back in Mammoth sometime this year.

Trad climber
The fake McCoy from nevernever land.
  Feb 18, 2014 - 11:30am PT

Trad climber
The state of confusion
  Mar 25, 2014 - 07:04pm PT

Bump this up to the top!

  Mar 25, 2014 - 09:02pm PT
One of the wickedest climbs of all time.

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
  Mar 25, 2014 - 10:19pm PT
Almost 36 years ago. Some of the memories are still fresh....probably the most nearly dead and the most alive I ever was.
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Mar 26, 2014 - 08:53pm PT
More Latok Love here...

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
  Mar 27, 2014 - 12:50am PT
Its my "go to" read when I crave a bit of "in your face" adventure. Up there with Shackleton and Neil Armstrong.

Thanks for the bump. Donini, you're a hero to a lot of us weekend wankers around here, thanks for always posting up!


Oakland, CA
  Mar 27, 2014 - 01:52pm PT
Including this awesome history of attempts from M. Kennedy in the other Latok post. Who can update it with attempts in the last 8 yrs or so?

Latok I North Ridge
7145 meters/23,441 feet

Latok I, located between the Choktoi and Biafo Glaciers in the Karakoram of Northern Pakistan, is guarded on all sides by steep rock buttresses and hanging glaciers, and presents no obviously safe and easy path to its summit. The North Ridge is the exception, at least as far as safety goes; while there is some danger from serac fall at the base of the route, you pass quickly through the hazard zone, and once on the route you only have to deal with the more manageable risks of cornices, snow mushrooms and technical difficulty.

The route has been tried at least 20 times since we were there in 1978, including multiple attempts by the same climbers. No one has yet reached our high point, poor weather and too much snow being the usual barriers. What will it take for someone to complete the North Ridge? A well-acclimatized team climbing in pure alpine style should be able reach our snow-cave site at about 23,000 feet in four or five days. Another day should suffice to reach the summit and return to this high bivouac, with two more days to complete the descent. Carrying a minimum of seven days of food and fuel and sufficient hardware to rappel such a long route would be brutal but necessary. In the end, luck will probably be a big factor, as the ideal combination of good weather, dry conditions, and sufficiently motivated and skilled climbers will be elusive at best.

With a few exceptions, the attempts on the North Ridge have been in at least as good a style as ours. It is my hope that future parties will continue to treat the route with respect by leaving as little trace of their passage as possible.

The following chronology is as complete as possible given the source material available. I welcome additional details of these or other attempts I may have missed.

July-September, 1975 – A Japanese team led by Makoto Hara circumnavigates the Latok group via the Biafo, Simgang, Choktoi, Panmah, and Baltoro Glaciers. Avalanches and rockfall prevent any significant attempts.

July-August, 1976 – A Japanese team led by Yoshifumi Itatani attempts the couloir between Latok I and Latok III (Latok East), reaching about 18,700 feet before turning back in the face of serac fall.

August-September, 1977 – An Italian team led by Arturo Bergamaschi investigates the route attempted by the Japanese in 1976, but decides it’s too dangerous. They make the first ascent of Latok II from the Baintha Lukpar Glacier.

June-July, 1978 – Americans Jim Donini, Michael Kennedy (Canadian by birth but resident in the United States), Jeff Lowe and George Lowe attempt the 8,000-foot North Ridge, climbing capsule-style and spending 26 days on the route. They reach a high point of about 23,000 feet.

1979 – A Japanese team led by Naoki Takada makes the first (and to date only) ascent of Latok I via the South Face. After a lengthy siege and fixing much rope and three camps on the rock buttress left of the couloir between Latok I and Latok III, six members reach the top on two separate days. June-July.

July, 1982 – British climbers Martin Boysen, Choe Brooks, Rab Carrington and John Yates attempt the North Ridge twice, the second time to a high point of about 19,000 feet.

July, 1986 – Norwegians Olav Basen, Fred Husoy, Magnar Osnes, and Oyvind Vlada attempt the North Ridge, fixing at least 600 meters of rope and reaching a high point of about 21,000 feet after 18 days on the route. They spend another 10 days in heavy snow before giving up.

July-August, 1987 – French climbers Roger Laot, Remy Martin, and Laurent Terray fix rope on the first 600 meters of the North Ridge, and encountering heavy snow, turn back at about 19,700 feet.

June, 1990 – British climbers Sandy Allan, Rick Allen, Doug Scott and Simon Yates, and Austrian Robert Schauer make a number of climbs in the area, but don’t attempt their primary objective due to “the difficult and dangerous snow conditions and the forbidding appearance of the pendulous snow mushrooms adorning the North Ridge of Latok I.”

July-August, 1992 – Jeff Lowe (U.S.) and Catherine Destivelle (France) try the North Ridge, encountering huge snow mushrooms on the route. Carol McDermott (New Zealand) and Andy McFarland, Andy MacNae and Dave Wills (Great Britain) reach about 19,300 feet on the route during two attempts the same summer.

July-August, 1993 – Americans Julie Brugger, Andy DeKlerk, Colin Grissom and Kitty Calhoun attempt the North Ridge, turning back at about 18,000 feet in the face of bad weather.

August-September, 1994 – British climbers Brendan Murphy and Dave Wills try the North Ridge, reaching a high point of about 18,300 feet on their second attempt.

July-August, 1996 – Murphy and Wills return, reaching about 20,000 feet before a dropped rucksack forces retreat. Two subsequent attempts are thwarted at 19,300 feet by poor weather.

August, 1997/1998 – Americans John Bouchard and Mark Richey attempt the route three times, the last with Tom Nonis and Barry Rugo, reaching a high point of about 20,000 feet. Unlike previous expeditions, they report high temperatures and dry conditions, which resulted in “considerable melting and rockfall from high on the face.” They follow the rock pillar from the bottom of the route, finding superb climbing up to 5.10. Bouchard, Richey and Lyle Dean return the following year for another attempt, but never get on the North Ridge due to bad weather.

August, 2001 – Wojciech Kurtyka (Poland) and Yasushi and Taeko Yamanoi (Japan) have a permit for the North Ridge but never attempt it due to poor weather. Stein Gravdal, Halvor Hagen, Ole Haltvik and Trym Saeland (Norway) reach about 20,500 feet after 15 days on the route.

2004/2005/2006 – Twin brothers Willie and Damian Benegas (Argentina) try the North Ridge three years in a row. The first two years they encounter much snow and bad weather during their attempts in June and July; they find drier conditions in
August 2006, but a major storm stops them at about 18,000 feet.

August, 2006 – Maxime Turgeon and Louis-Phillipe Menard (Canada) attempt the futuristic North Face, retreating from 17,400 feet in the face of dangerously warm conditions. They turn their attention to the North Ridge, but are turned back at a similar altitude by deep, fresh snow covering the previously dry rock.

The American Alpine Journal (1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1987, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999)
The Alpine Journal (1991/92, 1993, 1997)
Alpinist (Number 2, Number 4, website story 9/18/06)
High Magazine (#171, 1997; #234, 2002)

There's mention of Haley et. al. making an attempt in '08 on a Muggs award? What happened there?

What strikes me about this history is that there were no fatalities in the 20 or so failed attempts on this line?

That ridge has absorbed truly epic quantities of human suffering, but hasn't decided to keep any souls. Kennedy's line about Donini's fears of waking up next to a corpse - but instead JL waking up "positively chipper."

Latok I NR: doesn't want to kill you, but ain't going to let you summit.

Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
  Mar 27, 2014 - 02:14pm PT
Thanks for the chronology le_bruce!

Before the July-August 1993 attempt Andy DeKlerk was working with me as a carpenter. I was leaving the job before he was and wished him well on his adventure at the end of our last day together.

Andy was framing in a hip and I made note of his point of return for the following day and came back to the jobsite again and slipped a titanium Latok knifeblade into the framing where I knew he would see it and take it with him for good luck.

Always a forceful lad, I inquired about the piton later and he told me in disgust that it had buckled to the point of uselessness under his mighty blows on the first occasion that he tried to use it. LOL

That feather was designed for slipping daintily behind alpine blocks and was no match for his arm and hammer.
Larry Nelson

Social climber
  Jun 2, 2016 - 11:34pm PT
Bump for historic climbing content.

One of my favorite understated quotes:
"We now felt fully engaged"

The Good Places
  Oct 1, 2016 - 05:01pm PT
bump for the North Ridge Latok weight-loss program

Trad climber
Red Rock
  Oct 12, 2016 - 11:37am PT
Inspiring! bump

Social climber
joshua tree
  Oct 12, 2016 - 05:59pm PT

Social climber
Choss Creek, ID
  Oct 12, 2016 - 08:59pm PT
I'll bump again.

I saw Donini a couple weeks after his return from the epic.

He looked like a WWII concentration camp survivor.

Those men were tougher than most all of us can imagine.