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  EverestNews.com's: The best climb in 2004

The best climb of 2004: And the winner is: Jean-Christophe Lafaille Summit of Shishapangma without oxygen and a "TRUE SOLO" on December 11th, 2004

Jean-Christophe Lafaille continued his remarkable climbing success in 2004, ending the year with his summit of Shishapangma. He climbed SOLO (without others on the mountain SOLO), without oxygen and reached the Main Summit on December 11th, 2004.

While some have attacked Jean-Christophe Lafaille for his claim of a winter ascent on December 11th rather than on or after December 21st, much of what has been printed is just plain false. You really wonder if some ever check their facts...

Let's check the FACTS.

1. It has been stated that Ms Hawley does not count summits before December 21st as winter. This is incorrect. Ms Hawley lists all ascents beginning December 1 as "winter".  Jean-Christophe Lafaille met with Ms Hawley before the climb and discussed this issue.

Is Ms Hawley always right? Is Ms Hawley the rule maker for the world? No... Does Ms Hawley define winter for everyone? No. Does she have the right to define winter for herself? Yes.

Ms Hawley's database is now available on the web for sale, for those interested in seeing what Ms Hawley has to say.

2. Some said Jean-Christophe did not have a "Winter" permit. Some alleged Jean-Christophe climbed illegally for part of the climb. Clearly again, all false allegations. Take a look at his official permit and judge for yourself:

The permit says from November 11th to December 30th. The Permit says winter.

3. Some say Jean-Christophe claimed a new route; this is not true, he claimed a new "variant" not a new route. Those discussing this or publishing articles about this should know the difference.

4. SOLO's of 8000 meter peaks. The word SOLO is overused more than the word "great" in baseball these days. And climbers have the right to use the word, after all it is only a word and people are allowed to define it differently.

But in this case Jean-Christophe did a "TRUE SOLO". "TRUE SOLO", without any other climbers on the mountain and without the use of Sherpas above base camp. Not a solo push to the summit, but like Messner, Jean-Christophe arrived at the mountain and took it on! Jean-Christophe vs. the mountain! No one else to help set up camps or break trail. Just him. That is a "TRUE SOLO". The number of TRUE SOLO's of 8000 meter peaks, as we define "TRUE SOLO" can be counted on one hand.

5. Some have even hinted that Jean-Christophe arrived at the mountain early when the Czechs were still there from Autumn. Some people REALLY need to check their facts. Jean-Christophe was not even close to the mountain then.

Here is what Martin Minarik, the Czech climber who summited Shishapangma in the Autumn of 2004 without the use of bottled oxygen and without sherpa support. His comments:

"In the fall of 2004 (mid September-mid October), there were following expeditions: Spanish / Andorra, French (folks who tried to ski the face but did not succeed) Ivan Vallejo and and us (Czech expedition)." (Note EverestNews.com covered both expeditions.)

"There was no sign of JCL in the valley or in Kathmandu, [that] is a fact."

"I think JCL's climb is awesome. I happen to climb the British route along with three friends of mine ( JCL made his own variant in the lower part) only a few weeks before him and I swear that the conditions were very difficult. Ice was hard and rock and ice fall made the climb pretty dangerous. "

Martin also commented, "I do not want to get involved into the argument when the real winter in Tibet starts but it strikes me that some are giving Jean no credit at all."

On the Yugoslav route on the face: "There are only two Slovene routes. One directly to the left of British - very difficult - and another one which is basically a variation of Scott /MacIntyre descent route from the summit - not by far as difficult as British route which JCL climbed solo in I am sure, very difficult and cold conditions."

Martin: "I truly do not know what this is all about. I think this is just
another storm in the glass of beer and it should be solved in Thamel at Tom & Jerry Bar among the climbers who know what is involved. Please let me know if I should testify under oath that JCL was not in
the valley in the fall 2004 when we were climbing there :)"

Live long, climb high.
Martin, Czech climber

Does Jean-Christophe Lafaille take away from the Great Polish climbs Winter climbs (after December 21st) of the past? Of course not, in fact it should add to their legend!

So what really happened: Jean-Christophe Lafaille did a TRUE SOLO of Shishapangma without oxygen on December 11th, 2004 via a modified (variant) route.

How good is this? We have seen nothing else in 2004 that comes even close. Jean-Christophe Lafaille took on the mountain by himself. This truly was one man against the mountain... Again "TRUE SOLO's" of 8000 meter peak can be counted on one hand.

The best climb of 2004: Jean-Christophe Lafaille Summit of  Shishapangma without oxygen and a "TRUE SOLO" on December 11th, 2004

Jean-Christophe Lafaille Summits Shishapangma without oxygen and solo in Winter December 11th, 2004: the report from down safe

Jean-Christophe Lafaille Speaks

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