JC Lafaille missing on Makalu
For 6 days no one has heard anything from Jean-Christophe Lafaille, currently engaged in the difficult first winter ascent (and, above all, solo) of Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world.
For 6 days no one has heard anything from Jean Christophe Lafaille, currently engaged in the difficult first winter ascent (and, above all, solo) of Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world. The news bounced from an agency to internet sites and newspapers in its terrible non-determination: Missing! Jean Christophe is missing and no one has heard any news since Saturday 26 January, the date of his last dispatch from the high camp at 7600m, just before his summit bid.
His wife Katia Lafaille, who throughout the expedition was in constant contact with her husband and who was the first to raise the alarm, is currently on her way to Kathmandu. From there she plans to fly to Makalu in an attempt to find signs of Jean Christophe. Yesterday a helicopter and a small plane flew over the great mountain but were unable to locate the Frenchman: despite splendid weather there were no signs of the 39 year old mountaineer neither at Camp 1 at circa 6600m nor close to the last camp at circa 7600m.
Now, while the hours whittle away, it's useless hiding the fact that the term "missing" increasingly acquires a much deeper and darker meaning. Even if, in the case of a Himalayan mountaineer as experienced and strong as Lafaille (eleven 8000m peaks summited) it is difficult to completely abandon hope. As many will remember, in 1992 Lafaille carried out an incredible "return to life" on the south face of Annapurna after a trying 5 day solo ordeal. A strenuous battle after having lost Pierre Beghin, his companion during that adventure. And now, once again, during these hours and days of wait all we can do is hope for one of these other "possible" miracles.
photo Jean Christophe Lafaille on the summit of Shisha Pangma during his 2004 solo ascent 2004 (ph archive JC Lafaille)