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Spring 2004: projects in Nepal
Baruntse (7129m) and Annapurna (8091m)
I’ll be returning to Nepal on the 28th of March.
I’m going there in order to attempt two prestigious climbing objectives.
The first will be the north wall of Baruntse (7129m). This is a “virgin”
wall, untouched except by the gaze of thousands of “eye climbers!” This
wall is located in front of the south wall of Lhotse (8561m), part of
the mountain group between Everest and Makalu which has battled hundreds
of trekkers and alpine specialists over the past 30 years. This is going
to be an extreme and extremely cold (remember, it’s the north wall!) climb
that will test us and our equipment to the limit. The risk is that we’ll
have to use portaledge (rigid hammocks) to sleep hanging from the wall.
Officially, only the north crest (the left one when facing the wall) was
climbed by a French expedition in 1980. All the other ways up the mountain
have been made up the opposite side, along the southeast crest. The mountain,
as I’ve already said, is situated in the mountain chain that separates
the massif of Everest from the Makalu region. It’s known to anyone who’s
been to the high basin of Hongu where the upper part of the valley dominates
spectacularly; it towers over the Amphu Labsta Pass from where it appears
steep and inaccessible. It is also one of the spectacular peaks that can
be seen from the summit of Island Peak. You can also see it from the base
camp of Makalu. The first climb there was done by Edmund Hillary and a
group ? English and New Zealanders in 1954; the year after the first they
went up Everest along the southeast crest to reach the east side (Makalu).
Immediately after this first ever attempt, we’re
going to try the north wall of Annapurna (8091m—of the 8000m mountains
it is the least climbed and the one with the most failures) along the
route previously taken by the French. There is also the possibility, not
to mention the desire, to try something new on this wall, but first we
want to establish ourselves at base camp and carefully observe for ourselves
the dangers of this giant that has claimed more lives than it has allowed
to reach its summit…
The light style that belongs to few climbers, no oxygen or porters in the high altitudes, represents our way of tackling and respecting the great mountains. We will try to conduct an expedition with the least amount of impact upon the environment, using solar power to run and recharge our electrical equipmen t. During the last expedition there were 110,000 hits on our internet site in only a little more than a month. With this new and double adventure I hope that there will be as many if not more!
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