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Carlos Soria on Makalu: I'm going anyway!
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Feb 25, 2005 10: 24 EST
Makalu and Kanghenjunga are running out of guests to celebrate their 50th anniversary of the first time they were climbed.

The unrest in Nepal combined with the two peak's isolated location in Maoist controlled areas, the objective difficulty of both climbs and their relative lack of fame compared to other 8000ers such as Everest (the highest) or Cho Oyu (considered the easiest) are keeping climbers away.

Expeditions cancelled despite permit sale
A late attempt from Nepal's new government to promote expeditions to both peaks by waiving 50% of their climbing fees is getting no results. Moreover, some planned expeditions are now being cancelled.

That's not the case of 65 years old Carlos Soria. The Spaniard is decided to keep on with his plans, to climb Makalu whatever the circumstances. “I'm going anyway, and so is my climbing mate, Vicente Lagunilla. There will also be a trekking group with us up to base camp, at 5600m.”

Scouting routes and paying fees

"I know things are far from great in Nepal, but I don’t consider the situation dangerous to foreigners. We are flying to Kathmandu on April 2 and follow our plans unless they prove impossible."

"However, I will be checking the situation in advance: Before Makalu, I'm traveling to Tibet on March 9. I want to explore the possible routes to Dome Kang, the peak I attempted last year, from the Tibetan side. After checking the area we will decide where to climb from this fall. Then I will return to Spain, gather my climbing gear and head back for Nepal.”

“As for Makalu, we well know that we are crossing Maoist territories, but I'm not afraid. We'll talk to them and pay their ‘particular fee’.”

Dealing with the Maoists

Carlos will count on the valuable help of Muktu, his sherpa friend with whom he attempted Dome Kang and summited K2 last year. “Muktu was born in the area. He knows the villagers, and will surely make things easy both for us and the people we meet on our way.”

Climbers are simply assuming that they will have to pay the rebels; Carlos had included the ‘Maoist Fee’ in the trekking trip conditions ad 'not included expenses', such as meals in KTM, airport taxes and beers on the way.

Soria and Lagunilla are some of the few taking advantage of the 50% sales on the climbing royalties. "With the current situation, I agreed with the local outfitter that I would pay the royalties when I get to Nepal, so of course I am taking advantage of the reduced fee."

Alone on the Makalu La route

“We are sharing the permit and BC staff with two Basque climbers, Patxi and Julen, but I guess Vicente and I will move onward at our own pace.”

Carlos and Vicente are not aware of any other teams on Makalu’s normal route, through the Makalu La Col.

Al Filo de lo Imposible team and the Spanish Military are climbing the West Pillar. The impressive route, also known as Paragot Ridge, is a tempting goal for any accomplished climber. However, it is out or Carlos’ reach in the current circumstances.

“Sure it would be great to attempt the West pillar. But I would need a much larger team for that, and Al Filo guys will be there already. If Vicente and I went to the West Pillar, we would be climbing in their shade, using their tracks and… Well, that wouldn’t be very elegant. Therefore, we are rather climbing along with Muktu on the normal route, which is fulfilling enough actually.”

Veteran Spanish climber (65) years old - will attempt Makalu’s classic route with Vicente Lagunilla. They both summited K2 last summer, through the Abruzzi Spur, although they summited in consecutive days. Lagunilla reached the summit w/o O2, Soria became the eldest summiteer of K2. None of them is using supplementary O2 on Makalu.

Carlos Soria told Explorersweb that he will keep climbing as long as his legs will carry him. He counts on the help of Muktu, a young sherpa who climbed with him on K2 and Dome Kang, a 7000er in the Kangchenjunga region where he attempted a new route last year, and where he will be returning this fall. Legs permitting, of course.

Image of Carlos on K2 last year, courtesy of Carlos Soria
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