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  Jean-Christophe Lafaille Summits Shishapangma without oxygen and solo in Winter December 11th, 2004


Saturday, 11 December, 0700: The portable rings, and it's Jean-Christophe's cook, Sera, calling from base camp announcing that Jean-Christophe has just arrived at the summit of Shishapangma!!! after one second of concern. I explode with joy, I am so happy with the news of this exploit, this challenge!!

It's such an investment, of concessions we make all year... that success is the result, the reward of these sacrifices!

Jean-Christophe succeeded at the first solo winter summit of Shishapangma while opening an alternative route (variante) at 1300 meters!

I just talked to him on the telephone. He reached his camp at 7000 meters. He is well, he is content: "It was magnificent, magical, I saw the lights of Katmandu from afar... this night I was cold since starting this morning... not frostbitten fortunately! At the summit there was some North-West wind, but I managed well and prepared my ascent strategy which went really well!"

Jean-Christophe will spend the night at the 7000 meters camp and return to base camp tomorrow, December 12.

Good day! Katia Lafaille

[EverestNews.com Editorial Comment: Jean-Christophe's ascent was too fast and too soon to be an official "winter ascent" for those who use the December 21st as the definition as "Winter". The winter climbing season begins December 1st In Tibet/China, many including Nepal and China (where Shishapangma is located) define "Winter" as December 1st for Nepal and China climbs. Some climbing definitions like "winter" make little to no sense. Some would have Winter begin everywhere in the world December 21st. To those that don't think this is a Winter ascent, should Jean-Christophe go back up and tag the summit on December 21st? You know he can! Please! Time to move on and give credit where credit is due instead of trying to split hairs. That is our opinion and you will note, it is marked as an opinion...]

Previous information below

Jean-Christophe Lafaille

Jean-Christophe: Winter Shishapangma 2004
From 10 December 2004

Background: After returning from a 1300 kilometer bicycle tour of the American West, and after one week in France, Jean-Christophe set out again for Nepal  to try a project that he's been contemplating since 1996...  The first winter ascent of Shishapangma, in the most difficult style, like always: solo, using alpine technique and, of course, without artificial oxygen!

Jean-Christophe didn't wish to speak about this climb because he didn't want to have "the pressure" leading up to the project that he's been thinking about since 1996.

He climbed Shishapangma in 1994, going twice to the summit during the same expedition by opening a new route, solo on the northern face.

In 1996, he wanted to try Shishapangma in winter by using an alternative trekking route which starts in Langtang. However, this year was particularly snow-covered and Jean-Christophe could not reach the base camp of Shishapangma.

In 2003, Jean-Christophe set out again on this Shishapangma winter ascent, but a few days before his departure he learned that his father had become ill. He deferred the project to a later time when he could be in a better mindset, and so that he could be with his father and help him through his ordeal.

2004: This year feels good. He's ready and will attack the southern slope with a new route and approach to the mountain.

It should also be noted that the official winter season in the Himalayas begins on 1 December  and ends on 15 February. Jean-Christophe hopes to be able to summit Shishapangma during the first two weeks of December.

Climbing solo is the way Jean-Christophe likes it: managing the climb, fatigue, mental aspects, ascent strategy under extreme cold conditions... The major problem with a summit to more than 8000 meters in winter is related to a combination of severe cold and altitude. Very simplistically, what happens is that when one is in a state of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) blood thickens, and blood circulation is less efficient. The risks of frostbite is also higher in winter, with temperatures lower and days shorter.

Jean-Christophe doesn't want to summit the 8000 meter peaks just to collect them. He attaches a great deal of importance to the way in which he climbs a mountain... He likes the difficulty, engagement, autonomy and discretion. We worked very hard preparing for this project through specific training with the invaluable assistance of our partner LPG who develops and manufactures machines that work balance, coordination, muscular reinforcement, and recovery. We also attach  a lot of importance to diet, and with the help of Rene who works for LPG we can rely on certain nutrition under extreme conditions. We have a good balance between proteins, glucose, and lipids throughout the year, of food to be used during training, during recovery, etc.

Shishapangma: Shishapangma is the highest summit entirely situated in Tibet (China) as well as the closest 8000 meter peak to Katmandu. Its name in Tibetan means "the peak above the meadows". Its first ascent was made in 1964 by a Chinese expedition. With the opening of Tibet to foreigners in 1980, Shishapangma was climbed by many expeditions. The Southern face is very steep, a rise of 2300 meters. This is the face Jean-Christophe will attempt. The advantage of this mountain is that its access to base camp is easy. From the Friendship Bridge at the Nepalese border, Nyalam is 5 hours away. From this Tibetan village, Shishapangma base camp is a 2 day hike. The Southern face is then very close to base camp, situated at an altitude of 5400 meters.

 

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