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  Jean-Christophe Lafaille Winter Makalu: May he rest in peace ...


Katia Lafaille and her children traveled to Makalu Base Camp in Spring 2006 to honor Jean-Christophe. We put her in touch with climbers who was attempting the mountain at her request. No signs  of Jean-Christophe Lafaille was found on Makalu. We think he is still climbing! just a little bit higher up than we can see right now....

May Jean-Christophe Lafaille rest in peace as the great mountaineer we knew him to be!

Below are the earlier reports of his life and death....

Translation by Dr. Jean-François for EverestNews.com

A message from Katia Lafaille Wednesday February 1st 2006, 9:00

Today, I’m leaving for Nepal.  On Saturday (February 4th ), I will flight over Makalu in an helicopter (exactly as yesterday’s reconnaissance flight).  I will look for a sign of my husband in the immensity of Himalaya and I will say him goodbye in my name, in the name of his «little boy» Tom… and in the name of Jérémi.  Then I will recover Jean-Christophe’s gear at BC before getting back to Katmandu.

Thank you all for the tribute made in the honour of Jean-Christophe, a dad, a husband, an exceptional alpinist that won’t be replaced. 

Katia Lafaille

Translation by Dr. Jean-François for EverestNews.com

Last Update: Jean-Christophe Lafaille Winter Makalu: Jean-Christophe Lafaille : ALPINIST "When we love mountains, we have to accept all of their rules"


Only Jean-Christophe can get himself down, this was a true solo expedition. The cooks cannot climb. He is on his own. Our prayers are with him...

Previous Update: 2006 Winter Makalu Team’s official news: This morning (Nepalese time), an helicopter flew over Makalu for 40 to 45 minutes, reaching about 7000m.  The crew was able to locate Jean-Christophe’s tent lying at 7600m, but there was no sign of the renowned French climber.  The weather was great.  Jean-Christophe disappeared between 7600 m and Makalu’s summit.  Katia Lafaille is leaving France for Katmandu on Wednesday (February 1st). There will be another flight next Saturday in order to bring back Jean-Christophe’s gear. Yan

Official statement of the winter team Makalu 2006:  A helicopter flew over this morning Tuesday January 31 Makalu around 7000 m during 40/45 minutes they saw the the tent of Jean-Christophe remained at 7600 meter, without sign of him, the weather is good.  Jean-Christophe disappeared between 7600 m and the top.  Katia Lafaille leaves Wednesday February 1 for Katmandu.  There will be a flight hélico to recover the material Saturday 4.  Yan the router of Jean-Christophe.

Previous Update: If was not possible for the helicopter to leave to look for Jean-Christophe yesterday. The wait continues...

Previous Update: Jean-Christophe still did not give a news. (A rough translation of the news..)

Monday January 30 Jean-Christophe has still not appeared . The conditions allow a flight today: the wind blows between 30 to 35 km/h to 7 500 m.

A plane will fly over Makalu in order to try to locate the tent of Jean-Christophe.

If it is always there, that will mean that it probably fell into a crack between its bivouac and the top.

In solo, impossible to be ensured, it was the greatest risk run by the mountaineer.

The French mountaineer Jean-Christophe Lafaille, 39 years, launched in an attempt at winter rise as a recluse of Makalu (8.463 meters) and which has not given sign of life for 72 hours, was reported missing by his close relations Sunday.

"I asked for a recognition in the helicopter and also with a small plane, the helicopter which cannot go up beyond a certain altitude", declared Katia Lafaille, wife and manager of the mountaineer, joined on the telephone by the AFP.

The flight of the helicopter should take place Tuesday, specified Sunday evening on the telephone Serge Koening, adviser mountain of the minister to Youth and the sports.

The helicopter should also land with the base camp, where a cook and two carriers are. One always counts on a total breakdown of the equipment of transmission, which would prevent Lafaille from giving its news after a possible return to the base camp. "Bus if this hope is mean, it should not be eliminated", declared Serge Koening, who is, like Lafaille, professor at the national School of ski and alpinism (ENSA).

The close relations of the mountaineer were not in liaison with the base camp, but only with Jean-Christophe Lafaille itself, which had a satellite telephone. The last communication goes back to Thursday January 26, whereas it was with 7.600 meters, the day before the final attack. Party Tuesday January 24 of its base camp, with 5.300 meters, it bivouacked the evening even with 6.000 meters, the 25 to 6.900 meters and the 26 to 7.600 meters, according to Katia Lafaille.

It was to leave in the night and to gain the top Friday January 27. The contact envisaged the same day, at the end of this attempt, did not take place, indicated Mrs. Lafaille and, since, it was not possible any more to join the mountaineer.

One initially explained his silence by a technical breakdown of transmission. The batteries of its apparatuses were very low at the time of the last contact, explained one then in his entourage. But concern grew Saturday, in the absence of communication, whereas it should have joined its base camp, where is another satellite telephone.

The weather conditions were difficult. At the time of his last conversation with his wife, Jean-Christophe Lafaille explained that it made -30°C under his small tent of bivouac and that it had the frosted face. "It did not sleep all these nights, because of altitude and of the cold", had then explained Mrs. Lafaille. "But it felt in form and justified", she had added.

According to mountaineers' with Chamonix, of which some recently climbed Makalu, the way comprises extremely delicate passages on very crevassés glaciers where the risk of fall is very high.

Jean-Christophe Lafaille climbed eleven tops of more than 8.000 meters, the majority as a recluse or by new ways. He already succeeded in December 2004 winter as a recluse and alpine style in Sishapangma (8.064 meters), up to that point considered to be impossible on the most 8.000 meters.

In 1992, whereas it made its beginnings in the himalayism with the mountaineer Pierre Beghin in the southern face of Annapurna, this last had made a fall mortal with 7.000 meters of altitude. Left only and without material of assurage, Jean-Christophe Lafaille had then désescaladé the southern face, in a way of cross which had lasted five days, reappearing with the base camp whereas one gave it for death.


Previous Update: Jean-Christophe left Makalu’s Base Camp last week but has not reported in. The hope and prayers are that his sat phone is down...

Please send your positive energy and prayers to Jean-Christophe....

Previous Update: Translation by Dr. Jean-François for EverestNews.com


The attack is finally on!  Jean-Christophe has left Makalu’s BC and summit is right now his legitimate target!   As weather forecasts remain very unstable, Jean-Christophe will have to adapt to a constantly changing climate, maybe waiting one or two days in high altitude camps.  He plans to reach Makalu’s summit in 5 to 6 days.  Moral is good and so is motivation, even tough conditions are harsh.  There’s a huge difference between climbing a 8000m summit and a mountain of almost 8500m; acclimatization is longer and harder above 8000m, progression becomes a lot slower, a good window is essential (about 48 hours for Jean-Christophe on Makalu), so everything is a lot more difficult, especially when you’re on your own!  Remember that Makalu is still awaiting its first successful winter climb; in the past, about a dozen of expeditions tried, without success, to climb the mighty giant in winter.  Makalu is Nepal’s only 8000m mountain that remains unclimbed in winter!  Jean-Christophe’s actual challenge is very ambitious!  After last winter’s solo success on Shishapangma (December 2004) in alpine style, you can be sure that Jean-Christophe will do his very best to conquer the fifth highest mountain on Earth, which stands at almost 8500m!


See you soon! Katia.


Translation by Dr. Jean-François for EverestNews.com


background below

Winter 2005/2006: First Makalu’s winter ascent and solo!!!

Jean-Christophe Lafaille will realize during winter 2005/2006, his twelfth summit higher than 8000 meters with the first winter ascent solo and without oxygen to the MAKALU 8481 meters. This mountain was tried several times in winter by expeditions known as "heavy" (see appendix; "Alpine" style and "heavy" expeditions) of which one was by Reinhold Messner.

The ascent of the first 8000 in winter by Jean-Christophe, on December 11, 2004 on the "Shishapangma" (8036m) served to him as a test for the incoming project. He made up a very positive assessment of its mental and physical resistance under extreme conditions and could evaluate the aspects to be practised in its preparation. Polish, specialists in heavy winter expeditions, affirmed that it was impossible to carry out a winter ascent of a 8000 in alpine style (see appendix; The "Alpine" style and "heavy" expeditions) With the ascent of Shishapangma Jean-Christophe still showed that it was possible while being alone, without infrastructure at the base camp besides its cook!

Partners/Products: Since one year we are hard working on the preparation of this winter 2005. This preparation includes clothing and the technical material, the food, the physical training and the mental one. Beyond the physical and mental training, the word "protection" joins together the whole of our technical partners on different points thus complementary. Without them, without this confidence regarding their know-how this project would not be possible.

GORE-TEX Products. These products make possible the impossible, products which ensure an irreproachable and completely reliable protection to be calm in any circumstance. Collaboration with GORE-TEX lasts already for almost 10 years and enables Jean-Christophe to profit from new technologies, to have products made to measure to answer the extremely demanding schedule of his conditions. A product or a weakening membrane, badly conceived at 8000 meters can cost the life to Jean-Christophe. He does not have right to the error and neither the manufacturers. Collaboration that Jean-Christophe maintains with his technical partners goes beyond "sponsoring", it is above all the reciprocal confidence and the best which surround him. They form part of the key of its success. 

Jean-Christophe will use for this winter Makalu 2005 Mountain Hardwear in GORE-TEX XCR products and sleeping bags as well as the tents of altitude Mountain Hardwear which currently are the best on the market. Under the request of Jean-Christophe, they carried out a tent of bivouac ultra light for this winter. 

Lestra Sport and Jean-Christophe have designed an "innovative” sleeping bag for his expedition in December 2004, it will go out again with this perfect product baptized "Shishapangma" by Lestra Sports. The “dry salaisons"Black Mountain", bring quality products with essential nutritional interests in expeditions; Jean-Christophe regularly consumes them throughout the year and during his expeditions. Collaboration with LPG Systems which develops and manufactures machines which enable to work balance, coordination, the muscular reinforcement, recovery allow to refine this demanding preparation.

The Team: It is made up, of course, by the partners of Jean-Christophe but also by:

Katia Lafaille: wife and manager of Jean-Christophe.

Yan Giezendanner: Router weather

René Même: fitness trainer.

Professionalism: Since four years, Jean-Christophe has still reached a stage in his course, the ascents which he has carried out for all these years make that he has acquired maturity and experience while remaining passionate by what he does. The projects which he considers today join together these elements and require an extremely high preparation. Absolutely nothing is left randomly, material, alimentation, physique, mental, relax, each element of his preparation is thoroughly calculated, studied to reach the "perfection". It is something new in the world of the mountain, extremely enriching and interesting. Passion, professionalism, assiduity, perseverance, the patience of Jean-Christophe and those around him make possible his ascents very committed on the summits of more than 8000 meters.

Why?: The complete autonomy, as Jean-Christophe likes it; to well manage its strategy of ascent under conditions of extreme cold, its tiredness, and its mental force. He does not wish to climb the summits of more than 8000 meters only to collect them, he gives a great importance to the way in which he will climb this or that mountain. He likes the difficulty, engagement, to explore the universe of the high altitude. He has never used an artificial oxygen contribution in expedition (which lowers the person of approximately 1000m which means to say that one person who reaches 8000 m with oxygen is in fact physiologically at 7000m... in sporting terms it is not the same...) because what interests him is precisely to climb there by himself. If he did not have the physiological capacity to climb the 8000, he would simply climb less high tops. 

Apart from his potential, the characteristic which defines Jean-Christophe it is his very futuristic vision of the alpinism... In 1996, he connects in less than four days Gasherbrum I and II (8068m and 8035m), in 2002 with the ascent of Annapurna he shows that it is possible to traverse fifteen kilometres on an edge during four days in the "thin air" between 7200 and 8000 meters, in December 2004, he carries out the first winter ascent of Shishapangma solo and in alpine style. The barriers which he makes fall make possible to imagine tomorrow’s ascents…

Makalu 8481m: Situation: Mahalangur Himal, Nepal oriental.27°53’ lat.N / 87°05’ long.E

Altitude: 8481m.

First Summit : May 15 1955  via north west edge by Jean Couzy and Lionel Terray (France).

Base Camp Altitude: 5400m.

Timing (forecast):

27 October to 27 November 2005: end of the preparation abroad

01.12.05: Nepal departure

30 January 2006: back to France.

Expedition follow-up: Katia Lafaille, in liaison regularly with Jean-Christophe, will put on line on their site www.jclafaille.com information in real time about Jean-Christophe’s progression. The largest site on mountain will translate into English and will put on line the official communiqués that Katia will send to them on www.everestnews.com  (American site)

Katia Lafaille. 

APPENDIX: WINTER in Himalaya: 

The major problem in the ascent of summits of more than 8000 meters in winter is mainly related to the cold large mixture + altitude. In a very simplistic way here is in two lines what happens: when one is in a state of hypoxia (lack of oxygen) blood thickens, blood circulation slow down, the risks of frostbite are then high in winter with temperatures even colder and shorter days this process is reinforced.

Wind is also very problematic because the solid mass undergoes almost every day the famous "Jet Stream" whose airliners use for fly which blow on average of 160/180km/h. When he climbed the Shishapangma, the wind at the top was 70 km/h. The temperature this day at the top was of -35°, by adding the speed of the wind (wind chill) it reached approximately - 60 °.

« Alpine » style and « Heavy » expeditions: The difference between the alpine style and heavy expeditions are as follows: Heavy expeditions install progressively with their progression on the mountain fixed cords on which the mountaineers rise with a handle car-blocking (called the jumar) during the rise and the descent like self-insurance. Besides the base camp, several other camps are installed on the mountain; an advanced base camp, a camp 1, camp 2, camp 3 and even sometimes a camp 4. This style of ascent does not require technical qualities of climbing and requires much material on the mountain.

The alpine style is at the opposite and requires technical qualities of climber because there are not fixed cords installed (except for the delicate passage of a crack for example or a short portion and very technique of a passage on the route) thus not safety as well on the rise as in the descent. In addition, there is possibly an advanced base camp but then there are not several camps installed on the mountain. The same camp moves with the climber and follows him according to his acclimatization. This technique leaves the mountain "clean" but is very committed, the most committed one in the Himalayas.

Thanks to:




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Expedition footwear for mountaineering in conditions of extreme cold.  NOTE US SIZES LISTED. See more here.


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