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  Jean-Christophe Lafaille Makalu: Pictures ...



Earlier: Hello EverestNews readers, (in advance sorry for the translation)

You are numerous to ask for my news and I thank you. Until now it was difficult for me to give some to you, one needed that I take again my life in hands, here thus what I can say to you for the moment.

Me here of return in France since last 29 May after having spent 5 weeks in Nepal with my children; Jérémi and Tom.

The objective of this trip was as much as possible to approach Jean-Christophe in order to say to him goodbye for the last time.

After 10 days of walk under difficult conditions we arrived in front of this giant and majestic “Makalu”. The weather was splendid and the mountain was beautiful.

With the children and the sherpas, we have build our hands a memorial for Jean-Christophe by depositing a prepared slab plate there with Kathmandu.

On this plate the name of Jean-Christophe and our message is written. 

In the last village that we crossed before reaching the base camp of Makalu later four days, we found a LAMA which accompanied us until the end by our way in order to celebrate a “puja” (ceremony). Jean-Christophe had a beautiful ceremony… at the end of his ultimate trip was gathered amongst other things a score of Nepalese who requested and sang for Jean-Christophe… (the report of this trip was published in the Magazine N°2974 Paris-Match of the week from the 18 to May 23, 2006)

The Italian expedition which was on Makalu found no trace of Jean-Christophe except a handle of ice axe with a strap having been used to make safe the passage of a crevasse around 6500 meters of altitude.

No tents at 6900m of altitude nor at 7600m… nothing of nothing… there were very lot of falls of snow in Nepal at the beginning of April. This snow fell during several days and without the least wind even in high altitude.

The tent of Jean-Christophe to 7600 meters of altitude must be crushed under 2 meters of snow…

The Italians were formidable, they did the utmost to try to bring back some things for me. Mario Vielmo, the leader of Italian expedition, made a success of the top of Makalu.

Doctor, Mauro Torre, came to my meeting to the base camp from Makalu to 4800m (they were installed with the advanced base camp with 5400m) it gave me the handle of the ice axe of Jean-Christophe.

I was extremely disappointed not to have more information, with time I gave up this search useless to continue to seek it him and his equipment. I have do what it for the moment or it was necessary was needed.

Jean-Christophe went at the end of itself, at the end of his passion. What made it vibrate in the projects that it undertook it was this concept of engagement, being delivered to itself, to move in a natural environment without one being able to come to seek it, one of the last places on ground where technology does not exert its power yet…

It often compared its step in mountain with part of chess ; tactic, a lot of preparation, various strategies, anticipation with the problems which could arrive, enormously of safety, much of intelligence, patience and humility. this time it lost… “Checkmate”… it knew that there was a risk, it accepted it…, he returns in the history of the large explorers… his course, his life and rich person of lesson for those which remain, he leaves us a beautiful heritage in which there remains present…

With the children, we make a homage worthy of him and last weeks to him that it passed on this Makalu. The children are them also to go at the end of themselves for him to say goodbye and to impregnate themselves during a few days of the places of its last voyage. We accompanied it, it is not alone, we released ourselves from a weight which we left in his place, up there with him… a weight which will prevent us from looking in front of…

I am alleviated, my children also…

I raise finally the head to look at the future and to put a foot in front of the other… they are not the every easy day but I advance and I make confidence with the life, in the future.

This slow rebuilding could also start thanks to the supports of the people close to me… they will be recognized and I say to you THANK YOU… 

I benefit from it to thank and congratulate Veikka Gustafsson which reached on last 15 May, without contribution on artificial oxygen, under extremely difficult weather conditions its eleventh top of more than 8000 m the “Kangchenjunga 8595m” (Third higher top of the sphere, which means “the five treasures of the large snow”).

Veikka was near me lasting my travel to Nepal last February, it assisted me and supported in the most difficult moments of my life. I offered to him what held me more with heart in the material of Jean-Christophe….its ice axe, that with which it had tried Makalu in 2004 and had opened a new way on the virgin slope of Kangchungtse 7678m (Tibet), the most difficult rise technically which it never carried out in the Himalayas. With this ice axe, Jean-Christophe also made a success of the winter one in Shishapangma in December 2004… Jean-Christophe was attached, very attached to this part of his equipment…

Veikka said to me “I will try Kangchenjunga with the ice axe of Jean-Christophe” it did better, it took along part of Jean-Christophe to the top of one of the 8000 which it missed… I think that on the emotional level that should not have been easy for him to climb this 8000, close to Makalu, three months after the disappearance of Jean-Christophe and even less to take along his ice axe there…

Side project, I prepare a book, my book, which will leave for the date birthday disappearance Jean-Christophe in January 2007. There are other projects in the head but sufficiently not structured to be evoked today. See you soon ! Katia Lafaille.


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:




Millet One Sport Everest Boot  has made some minor changes by adding more Kevlar. USES Expeditions / High altitude / Mountaineering in extremely cold conditions / Isothermal to -75°F Gore-Tex® Top dry / Evazote Reinforcements with aramid threads. Avg. Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz Sizes: 5 - 14 DESCRIPTION Boot with semi-rigid shell and built-in Gore-Tex® gaiter reinforced by aramid threads, and removable inner slipper Automatic crampon attachment Non-compressive fastening Double zip, so easier to put on Microcellular midsole to increase insulation Removable inner slipper in aluminized alveolate Fiberglass and carbon footbed Cordura + Evazote upper Elasticated collar.

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


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