to the culture of the polemic, stop to the comedy del arte!"
I want to thank the partners and my entourage who accompanied me in this a
little insane project of the Shishapangma and which follow me in the requiring
project of the 14 tops of more than 8000 meters. Thank you also for all the
messages of congratulations which we received; they have touched us very much.
I want to take the opportunity from these lines to take off my hat to the
genius visionary of Doug Scott, Alex Mac Intyre and Roger Baxter Jones which
opened this splendid western southern face of Shishapangma in 1982 in an
alpine style. Also I take off my hat to Katia who manages during the all year
the requirements of such projects and those of our professional life. I am not
used to impose my points of view or to make criticisms as well in my personal
life as in my alpinist life but just back from Shishapangma, I must react to
the rumours which circulate because I do not know if they are not more
deafening that the Tibetans winds.
had an official licence winter of ascension of Shishapangma for the winter
2004 delivered by Chinese mountaineering association and Tibetan
mountaineering association (see document) and all the services provided by
these organizations were paid at the price (high!) of a winter rise.
Officially in Tibet, the winter season begins on December 1. On 25 November, I
could have tried the ascent towards the top but I waited one week at the base
camp in order to be in the official time of Tibetan winter, thus I am very
surprised by the criticisms about the dates of the ascent... Beyond the
official character, I consider to have climbed this splendid wall under
conditions of cold, wind and weak sunning (among the shortest days of the
year) except standard compared to my eleven preceding ascents to the more than
8000 meters. The weather reports, the position and the force of the jet stream
confirm the winter character of this rise beyond the official dates. I have to
point out also the total absence of other expeditions on the mountain (as well
on the western southern face as on the normal way) and this becomes an
extremely rare situation in the Himalayas; this aspect offered to me one
moment of loneliness as impressive as fascinating to living.
on this same western southern face of Shishapangma, at the same period, Andy
Parkins and Victor Saunders were blocked at 6500 meters by very violent winds;
I do not believe they found the conditions climatic "autumnal"... I also want
to recommend to the "fusspots" to read again the excellent story of Erhard
Loretan (8000 howling, editions Sarine) on his winter rise (top on December
08, 1985) of the East face of Dhaulagiri with Pierre Alain Steiner and Jean
Troillet; not precisely under “autumnal” conditions... All these mountaineers
have enough remarkable courses (much more brilliant than some polemicists
mountaineers!) not to be regarded as usurpers.
small technical precise details: I consider to have opened more an alternative
than a new way during this solitary rise winter of Shishapangma because after
more than 1000 meters of ascent (half the height of the face) I joined the
superb British way of 1982. For the "puristes" I climbed Shishapangma in
alpine semi style since I used 300 meters of fine fixed cords (dyneema of Béal)
since the wall was in black ice, dries, with threatening séracs and a very
delicate rimaye (especially alone...). Also, I have not envisaged to open a
new way on this wall but the conditions of the mountain imposes me this
judicious but delicate advance in the middle of the face; an "opportunist"
opening to some extent. Moreover it is very difficult to get acclimate on this
southern slope of Shishapangma.
consider, despite everything to have climbed in an alpine style 90% of this
wall. Moreover the return, the descent is obviously delicate to manage with
the tiredness of the top and the constant stiffness of the face; one is well
far from a descent length of a normal way... Obviously during two hundred
meters I took the only corridor which walks on (dangerously) between two
barriers of séracs. (see gallery photographs) This corridor was taken by cords
(and initially from the descent) before that of Simone Moro... And the old
fixed cords of the winter attempt of last year still in this corridor could
not make me doubt about the non virginity of this passage. Is it more
sportsman and more interesting for the future of the alpinism to climb
Shishapangma after December 21 with two thousand meters of fixed cord and a
team of four mountaineers (attempt of 2003/2004) or in very light style and
alone on December 11?
was to prove to me that I was able to climb alone, without any support,
without artificial oxygen a large Himalayan wall under winter conditions. I
made this dream come true. Even if some are not happy about this, I really
have much fun on these very high Himalayan tops, up there, well above the top
of the human mediocrity, and this is the most important thing! More over, I
have learned very much from this rise of Shishapangma and I take an
appointment with you for next winter, for a new voyage "in the rare oxygen"
and cold Himalayan winter.
Translations by Fabienne for EverestNews.com
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