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MAKALU West Pillar summit PUSH!
image story

Jun 1, 2005 12: 05 EST

Everest summit fever almost made us forget there are yet teams on other 8000ers. One of them is a Spanish team who refuses to let Makalu’s West Pillar go without a summit. The military group from the Spanish Army’s High Mountain corps (GMAM), and the Spanish TV climbing and filming crew of Al Filo de lo Imposible (On the edge of the impossible) are going for it tonight.

The climbers have already been on the mountain for 50 days, blasted by bad weather. Still, they managed to sneak up between blizzards and fix the route up to 7500m, at the foot of the demanding Seigneur wall and 300m above their Camp III.

Summit tomorrow?

The forecasted lower winds in the first days of June determined the definite summit push. The team set off from Base Camp on Monday, hoping to summit tomorrow.

“Each team member has been given a particular role and tasks,” said Sebastian Alvaro, director of Al Filo TV documentaries. “Many of them already know they will have no chance to summit, as they must support their mates for the sake of a collective success.”

Counting crows in place of former C3

However, the climbers don’t know exactly what to expect up there. Right before departure, while checking the route through the camera’s lenses, they couldn’t find their C3 anymore. A flock of Himalayan crows was occupying the spot. They can’t tell for sure, but they suspect that the crows might have ragged holes in the tent’s canvas to search for food, and the high winds which blew in the last days might have wrecked the rest. In case of C3 being seriously damaged, they would have to change their strategy.

8485 meters high, Makalu is the fifth highest mountain on Earth. Its name means ‘The Great Black’. It is a four-faced pyramid, with a secondary peak - Chomo Lonzo or Makalu II (25,650 ft/7818 m) - separated from the main summit by a narrow saddle, known as Makalu La.

It was first climbed by a French team led by Jean Franco on May 15, 1955.

Makalu’s West Pillar was first climbed in 1971 by a French team led by Paragot. The West Pillar is a steep, 2000m long buttress that poses serious problems for Himalayan climbers. The climb includes highly rigorous sections, including a vertical wall known as the ‘Seigneur Wall’.

The Al Filo de lo Imposible team members are: Sebastian Alvaro (leader), Antonio Perez/Grueso, Ferrán Latorre, Eloi Callado, Alex Txicon, and Manuel Benito.

The GMAM team members are: Commander Alberto Ayora (leader), Commander Dr. Santiago Villanueva, Captain Fausto Blanco, Lieutenant Fermín Peñarroya, Brigadier Felix Criado, and Officer Francisco Borja.

Image of climber on makalu’sWest Pillar, courtesy of the Expedition team thorugh RTVE.

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