Makalu 2005: Spanish Army to Attempt West Pillar|
Jan 25, 2005 16: 20 EST
Wanting to do something special to commemorate the 20th anniversary of their founding, the Spanish High Mountain Military Group has announced it will attempt to climb Makalu (8462m) through its West Pillar.
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’.
For many Spaniards, climbing Makalu’s West Pillar has been an extremely difficult feat to accomplish. The Military High Mountain Group will be attempting to become only the second Spanish expedition to successfully summit Makalu’s West Pillar.
Three is a charm for Juanito?
In 1989, Juan Oiarzabal led an expedition with Atxo Appellaniz, Kike de Pablo, and Manuel Zuloaga, but turned back at 8350m.
Oiarzabal made another attempt with the Spanish TV crew, “Al Filo de lo Imposible” in 2003 and is planning on making another attempt this spring, but he is still recovering from frostbite injuries received last summer from climbing K2.
Deadly first success
The first successful Spanish climb was not until 1991 when Carles Valles and Manu Badiola made it to the top. Badiola, however, fell to his death while descending.
Other Spaniards wish to add to their country’s list of successful Makalu climbs. In an interview with Explorer’sWeb, Carlos Soria said he will attempt Makalu’s classic route. During the interview, Soria said he has wanted to climb Makalu ever since, while sitting atop Everest’s balcony last summer he fell in love with the beauty of the peak from watching the sun set on its slopes.
The Military High Mountain Group was founded in 1985. Since then, they have made major expeditions each year. They have reached both Poles and Everest, and have summited peaks in the Himalayas, Andes, Antarctica, and Pamir-Tien Shan. They have been to several 8000ers as well.
Image of GMAM expedition to Cho Oyu in 2001, courtesy of the Spanish Military High Mountain Group through the Spanish Army website.