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Jean-Christophe Lafaille and K2


The Frenchman Jean-Christophe Lafaille speaks to planetMountain before his departure for K2

He had mentioned it in his interview after his new route on the Drus, and now the moment to depart has arrived. This time Jean-Cristophe Lafaille is heading to K2, to explore its tremendously difficult South Face. This arduous project has rebuked many in the past, but let’s hear what he has to say about his expedition.

What do you plan to do on K2?

Jean-Cristophe: My project on this very beautiful and difficult mountain is to solo its South Face. This snow and ice climb is characterised by its steepness, and this project is possible only if the snow conditions are excellent. I want to acclimatise on the Abbruzzi Ridge and after that I’ll see…

What do you know about K2? And what remains unknown?

Jean-Cristophe: I don’t know anything about K2 because I’ve never attempted this magic mountain. I’ve seen it only once, in summer ‘96 when I climbed Gasherbrum I and GII. But I’ve read many books and over the last few months I studied many photos.

What climbing style will you choose for the ascent?

Jean-Cristophe: The weather is very harsh in Baltoro region. You wait around for a long time for good weather and after a week or 12 days in Base Camp you only get 3/4/5 days where conditions are good enough for climbing. Therefore I want to climb very quickly (after having acclimatised well!), lightweight and alone. I like this climbing style and I think it’s possible to solo K2’s South Face very quickly and lightweight; at least, I hope it’s possible...

You are an alpinist belonging to the new "multimedia" generation - how does this influence your passion? And how does this affect you as an alpinist?

Jean-Cristophe: I don't really know if I belong to the new multimedia generation of alpinists because I'm very bad at computing! I'm a professional climber who’s living in this day and age but I'm definitely not very good at using computers!! I like to climb and I’m lucky to be able to do what I like most: climbing! This is my life and the media doesn't affect my passion. I’ll have more work at Base Camp now because I have to phone and organise emails, but this isn’t really a big problem as one has plenty of time to spare in a Himalayan Base Camp! I like being in contact with Europe when I’m on a glacier for a long period of time, but when I actually climb all of this doesn’t change a thing.

With which alpinists do you compare and confront yourself?

Jean-Cristophe: I have a good feeling, and my ethics have been influenced by the ascents and books of Pierre Beghin and Messner. They remain the masters for the new Himalayan generation: small expeditions, no oxygen, not much equipment, only the possibilities of man in front of one biggest mountains: I like this concept and ethic.

Jean-Cristophe Lafaille

Jean-Cristophe Lafaile on Pumori with Everest and Lhotse in the background.

Jean-Cristophe's 8000m peaks
- Cho-Oyu (8206m) – Polish route
- Shishapangma (8046m) – solo new route
- Gasherbrum II (8035m) and Gasherbrum I (8068m) - traverse
- Lhotse (8516m) – West Face
- Manaslu (8163m) – North Face, first solo ascent

  Interview with Lafaille after his ascent of the Drus.





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