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Makalu West Pillar attempt over: "We gave it all"
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Jun 3, 2005 11: 36 EST
”It’s over,” wrote a member of the Spanish Army team. “When we needed some luck most, Fortune turned its back on us.” The climbers were attempting Makalu’s West Pillar together with ‘Al Filo de lo Imposible’ TV documentary series’ team.

The climbers launched their summit bid on May 31st, aiming to summit on June 2nd. However, a strong westerly wind hit the Pillar in full force: the team had to dig small platforms and set a new camp, after their previous camp 3 was destroyed in a storm.

Night of fear

The summit team spent a long, scary night, fearing that the tents would be blown off from the wall with them inside. The following morning conditions were far from improving, wind reaching 90 km/h, and thus forcing the expedition leaders to abort the attempt.

“We feel desperate, and depressed,” vented the GMAM spokesman. “This was the second attempt on the Pillar for the Al Filo team. As for us, we now have to go back home without summiting for the third time, after our previous attempts on Dhaulagiri and Manaslu. There is no excuse. We simply didn’t make it. Even though we gave it all.”

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.

File image of Makalu, courtesy of Carlos Pauner
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