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 Winter Makalu 2000/2001                 12-12-2000 Dispatch

Krzysztof Wielicki's decision

Change of Route

The Alpinists are climbing the western leg of Makalu visible from the upper right side of the picture. The advanced base was set up at the foot of the leg, on the copper rocks. It is 7-8 hours away from the main base. One can see Lhotse and Mount Everest in the background, in the "steam" of snow. The wind is so strong that the blown snow covers the summits. Camp 1,  photo by Dariusz Zaluski

On Sunday evening, after the comeback to the main base, Krzysztof Wielicki, the head of the expedition, had the courage to announce his decision to everyone: After the examination of the existing weather conditions we have to change plans and climb Makalu using a different route.

About 1000 meters of ropes carried into the advanced base (5100m) on the glacier at the foot of the Western Leg of Makalu, tents needed to set up upper camps, sleeping bags, mattresses, food, climbing equipment, installing handrails along the way to camp no.1 which was set up yesterday at the height of 5800 meters - all this in vain. "I do not want to exceed the effort of the group unnecessarily - said Wielicki - This season is extremely dry with high line of snow. In order to get from the base to the foot of the Western Leg of Makalu we would have to march on the Barun glacier covered with rocks, moving talus and a labyrinth of stones which would take us 6 to 8 hours. We loose all our energy to march in the clouds of dust instead of going up. I calculated that during the whole mountain operation it would take our four teams 24 days only to walk the bed of the valley."

The advanced base lost on the glacier covered with talus.  Photo: Dariusz Zaluski Climber climbs up to the camp set up at the height of 5800 meters. Photo by Krzysztof Wielicki

Krzysztof Wielicki proposed a four-kilometer climb up the south-east ridge first ascended by Japanese Alpinists in 1970. Here we have a border between Nepal and Tibet (China). It is clearly visible over the base. "I want to increase our chances - says the head of the expedition - we have little time, the days are short. Leaving our base (4900m), which we called The Makalu Hotel" may mean immediate climb up the south - east ridge. Until this moment we had to go around the mountain in order to reach the Western Leg."

The members of the expedition peacefully accepted Wielicki's decision. This included the ones who have just carried another part of the equipment onto the camp no.1 at the leg and who will have to pack and take to pieces everything they built with such great effort.

Monika Rogozinska from the base at the foot of Makalu

written by Monika Rogozinska, "Rzeczpospolita",
transl. by "TRANSLATOR" Technical Translation Agency
http://www.rp.pl  ("Rzeczpospolita") and
http://www.translator-warsaw.com.pl ("TRANSLATOR")

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