Solo New Route on Makalu 2

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Solo New Route on Makalu 2

J.C. Lafaille’s new route climbs to the summit of Makalu 2, the sharp summit in the foreground below the main peak. The route follows the sun-shadow line up a right-angling ridge, then heads back left up steep ground to the top.

Jean-Christophe Lafaille soloed a new route on the north side of Makalu 2 (7,650 meters), but was unable to continue to the 8,481-meter main summit of Makalu. Completely alone on the Tibetan side of the mountain, the Frenchman acclimatized with several forays high on his chosen line, a beautiful spur and face leading directly to the top of Makalu 2. During these efforts, he fixed a few ropes over the toughest passages, including the bergschrund and a 60-meter mixed pitch at around 7,000 meters that Lafaille called the most difficult climbing he had ever done at high altitude. On May 13 he began his final attempt. Over four days of climbing he completed the new line and descended to Makalu La, the 7,400-meter pass between Makalu and Makalu 2. Exhausted and plagued by a chest infection, Lafaille decided to descend the Nepali face to basecamp on the peak’s normal route, hoping to return in a few days to climb the main peak, which would have been his 12th 8,000-meter summit. However, all of the expeditions on this side of the mountain were about to desert their camps, and Lafaille gave up on his summit hopes and returned alone to his own base on the Tibetan side of the mountain.

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