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is the end
Camps 1 and 2 destroyed
Winter Crown of the Himalayas still awaits its
Heck of a Windstorm
still unconquered in winter
Saturday morning Krzysztof Wielicki, the head of the
Polish Winter Expedition to Makalu, officially
announced the retreat and the end of the expedition.
Very bad conditions did not give the climbers
the slightest chance. On the morning of Monday 15 January,
weather permitting, a helicopter will come to the base
to pick up the members of the expedition.
Wielicki informed everyone about his decision via
radio-phone from the extended base. Three teams of
Alpinists were still at the western slope of the
previous day one of the teams, Gia Tortladze and
Krzysztof Liszewski found the tent of camp 2 a few
hundred meters below its location. It was put up a
week earlier. The wind took our shelter and rolled it
down the slope. The masts were broken but the material
along with complete equipment remained untouched. The
tent was too damaged to be pitched again. It belonged
to Tortladze and was made in Russia. The Alpinist
claimed that it has never failed him. Due to the
windstorm climbers could not pitch a shock tent they
brought with them. "During the climb a blow of
wind elevated me and threw to the ground, Krzysztof
flew two times, I think. - said Tortladze - We decided
to come back".
War of Winds
camp at the height of 6200 meters was also destroyed.
American equipment failed us again. "The North
Face" tent appeared to be too gentle for winter
time in Himalayas. The blizzard crushed the masts,
which made holes on the walls and tore the material.
Jerzy Natkanski and Maciej Pawlikowski had a difficult
bivouac there. They were assigned a task of providing
help for the teams of two attacking the summit.
Alpinists lost a lot of equipment which was
indispensable when climbing. Wielicki, who was
preparing for the final attack together with Dariusz Zaluski,
appealed to his colleagues via radio-phone. He asked
them not to risk their lives in order to save the
equipment and not to go up. The noise caused by the
walls of the tent in the extended base made his words
illegible. A wind from hell raged in the upper parts.
During previous 24 hours, depending on the direction
of wind, temperature changed from minus ten to plus
two grades and back within the span of an hour. When
the Alpinists started their last attack, there began a
real war of winds. Thick, scattered clouds hit the
three-kilometer long precipice of the southern slope
of Makalu with great might after which they came back
taking stones with them, like a wave. Differences in
temperature caused an avalanche of rocks. The rain of
stones accompanied us day and night.
at the pass
Alpinists were very exhausted. Further stay gave no
chances to conquer the summit. "Great effort of
climbing makes an organism use up its own resources -
explained Doctor Roman Mazik, the physician of the
expedition. - It is not possible to supply energy with
good food - the digestive system does not take in
nourishment because of the height and lack of oxygen.
After about 4 to 5 weeks resources of the organism are
drastically low. Further stay at such height leads to
thus Makalu still remains one of
eight-hundred-thousand meter mountains of Nepal which
were not conquered in winter. A bonus awaits those who
reach the couloir leading to Makalu La pass. The new
"North Face" shock tent is tied to the
balustrades there along with a small ice axe which
belonged to Maciej Pawlikowski. He got it from Jerzy
current expedition was the third Polish Winter trip to
Makalu. Winter attempts to conquer the mountain were
begun by Reinhold Messner at the break of 1985/86. He
managed to get to the couloir leading to Makalu La
pass. Hurricane winds made further action impossible.
Events of the expedition were filmed and caused great
emotion and controversy. A French climber died. His
body was pushed into a crack in the ice. The Poles
applied to the Nepalese authorities for the permission
to attack Makalu in winter in the season of 1987/88.
That was the first time. Andrzej Machnik was the head
of the expedition. There were no helicopters then. The
expedition employed four Nepalese carriers. Six Poles
and two Americans walked with a caravan until the foot
of Makalu. It took them two weeks. On 10 December 1987
the main base was set up at the southern slope. After
that they set up three camps at the Chago glacier and
at the entrance to the couloir which led to Makalu La
pass. The history repeated itself. A change of weather
and windstorms allowed them to reach the height of
7400 meters. Alpinists sheltered in caves in ice cut
out with saws. On 28 January 1988 the Polish
people formed the next expedition led by Krzysztof
Wielicki ten years ago. Anna Czerwinska, Ryszard Pawlowski
and Ingrid Baeyens from Belgium were with him. At the
time Wielicki was among the best of climbers in the world.
His achievements included winter conquests of Mount
Everest, Kanchenjunga and Lhotse, marking new routes
from bases into the peaks of the Himalayan giants
within 24 hours. He also got acquainted with the route
of the first conquerors of Makalu leading through
aimed really high - said Wielicki - we thought that
everything was possible, even a four-person winter
attack of so vast and windy mountain. We chose the
classic route through Makalu La, which appeared
difficult due to its length. We got lost in a
blizzard. In mid-January we had enough of it. This was
however a great school of Himalaism. Every one of us
stood at the top of the Everest".
2000/2001 Winter Expedition to Makalu will be
remembered as one more unsuccessful attempt to conquer
a virgin, eight-thousand-meter high mountain in
winter. There exist fourteen giants. Makalu remains
one out of seven which have not been conquered yet.
The Winter Crown of the Himalayas still remains the
greatest challenge of the highest mountains.