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Makalu: Spaniards brave icy West Pillar, dodge winds
image story

Apr 29, 2005 10: 23 EST
The Al Filo team and a group of military guys from the Spanish Army’s High Mountaineering Corps, is fixing its way up the ice-encrusted West Pillar.

Compared to their last attempt three years ago, they are facing tougher conditions, with ice covering many sections.

On April 21st they reached C2, at 6,500m. Since then, they have split into three-man teams, working in shifts on the route up to Camp 3. Earlier in the week they had fixed 650m of rope.

7000 m reached on the normal route

Meanwhile, two other Spanish teams are making their way up the normal route. Patxi Goñi and Julen Requeta opened the trail up to 7000m.

They plan to take a short cut to avoid the wind: “We decided to climb slightly to the right side of the couloir to avoid the Makalu La saddle.

The route we are taking will lead us to a spot about 200 meters above the saddle, hopefully sheltered from the winds, where we will set Camp 2,” reported Paxti to Diario de Navarra. The guys expect to be ready to launch a summit bid in one or two weeks.

Second normal route expedition - sans Soria

Vicente ‘Tente Lagunilla’ and Angel Villán have similar expectations. Veteran Carlos Soria was supposed to be the leader of this team, but a climbing accident forced him to put off his dream of climbing Makalu this spring.

Carlos is currently at home and crossing his fingers for a rapid recovery: He has set his sights on the summer, when he could attempt Broad Peak and the Gasherbrums, in Karakorum – back permitting, of course.

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 climbers on Makalu’s West Pillar, courtesy of Al Filo de lo Imposible/RTVE/Spanish Army’s GMAM

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