French alpinist feared dead

Kathmandu, February 6:

French alpinist Jean Christophe Lafaille has been feared dead during his solo attempt of Mt Makalu without bottled oxygen, since there is no news of him for the last 10 days.

The last time Jean had any contact with his wife Katia Lafaille was on January 27 when he had reached 7600m. Katia has lost all hope of his survival.

Jean’s goal was to conquer all fourteen 8000 m peaks. Makalu was his twelfh.

“By now, he must have died since it is impossible to survive for ten days after meeting with an accident on a peak,” said calm and composed Katia.

Jean, according to her, could have have fallen off the crevass since he did not seem to have any problem with the weather. She used to talk to her husband every two to three days even while he was on the mountain.

However, when she did not hear from him on January 28, she contacted the French government to help locate him on the peak.

It was on January 31, the first attempt to find Jean was made but to no avail. All they could see was Jean’s tent on the peak. Katia then rushed to Nepal on February 2 and flew to Makalu on a chopper on February 4 but she could hardly see anything due to poor visibility. She is leaving for France on February 10 “with Jean’s belongings” but hopes to come back in April to look for Jean’s body.

“I want to climb Mt Makalu to look for his body but I don’t know if I can do that since I have a five-year-old son, Tom, and being a mother I have responsibilities,” she said at a press meet organised by the French Embassy here today. Katia was also Jean’s manager who used to oraganise his expeditions.

Jean, according to Katia, was a seasoned mountaineer who would always try and find new or technically difficult routes while climbing mountains.

He conquered eight 8000m peaks alone and all 11 eight thousanders without bottled oxygen. The only mountains left to conquer were Makalu, Everest and Kanchanjungha. He came to Nepal on December 8 and made an attempt on Makalu after 45 days. French ambassador Michel Jollivet expressed concern for losing a mountaineer.