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Tuesday, 10 February 2009

First winter ascent of Makalu!

Yesterday Simon Moro and Denis Urubko made the first successful winter ascent of Mt Makalu in Nepal at 8,462m. This is an amazing achievement as climbing at 8,000m in winter is incredibly difficult and of course very, very cold!

Makalu is the last 8,000m peak in Nepal to be climbed in winter, however none of the five 8,000ers in Pakistan have yet to be summitted in winter (although Simone has twice attempted Broad Peak in winter).

It is interesting how the mainstream media have missed this landmark climb in the Himalayas, probably because it is not another "first" by a tourist climber on Everest. I have copied Denis Urubko's description below of his attempt last year to climb Makalu in winter:

"In conditions like these, the route becomes a death trap. It's possible to try and reach the top over Makalu Col, but if the wind increases you won’t make it back. The wild funnel reaches up to 200 kilometers per hour making human survival impossible. The western storm will carry your frozen soul towards Lhasa; to soar over Tibet in search of the eternal beauty you couldn't find in your life.

Life in BC: crazy tunes from above. Even life in BC is a mental test. Only those who have experienced it can fully understand the terrible conditions of Makalu BC in winter. Lakes are frozen over by deep frost into a surface similar to pineapple peel. The tent never stops rattling over your head. The ropes scream and the wind incessantly deposits handfuls of snow and sand inside your shelter.

fragility of life is also underlined by a furious rumble from the summit high up above. She sings mad tunes; she cries out, "poor suckers," at us for not braving her slopes. She mourns and she threats, a mute question of "when?" sounding in each high pitch."

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