KITTY猫 发表于 2009-6-23 15:03:00
| 让?克里斯托夫?拉法耶是他这一代人中最有天赋的登山运动员。他勇敢无畏，在没有氧气和后援的情况下独自登上了数座世界最高峰。6个月前， 8千米高的马卡鲁峰就在他眼前，可他就此销声匿迹。 |
On his last morning alive, Jean Christophe Lafaille woke up perhaps the most profoundly alone man on the planet. His tiny tent, specially designed for ultra-high altitude, was perched on a small ridge at around 25,000ft on an icy shoulder of Makalu, the world's fifth largest mountain. Either side of the tent, huge rock and snow cliffs and avalanching slopes swept down to the distant valleys of the high Nepalese Himalayas. There was nothing above him except Makalu's summit, some 3,000ft higher.
Ahead of him was a day that few normal human beings could have survived for more than a few minutes. Even by the standards of this most gifted and hardened mountaineer, the task Lafaille had set himself was almost unprecedented in modern mountaineering. Outside it was around -30℃, still dark, with a light wind. The summit of Makalu would take 10 hours of hard and dangerous climbing to reach; up steep ice slopes, through crevasse-strewn glaciers and rocky cliffs, gasping in the thin air at an altitude at which passenger jets cruise. No one had ever climbed the mountain in winter before — let alone without oxygen, or back-up. Before leaving his tent, he rang his wife again. And then the finest climber in France, arguably in the world, disappeared.
It was late January this year and Lafaille, 40, was climbing in the hardest way possible. He had no rope mates, no porters, no rescue team. There were no other expeditions anywhere near him, and no one else on the mountain. His only link to the rest of mankind was a portable satellite telephone — which he had been using to call his wife and his four-year-old son several times a day.
Lafaille was born in Gap, in the foothills of the French Alps, in 1965. He started climbing at a young age, inspired by the books collected by his father, a keen amateur mountaineer. He quickly proved to be an extraordinary talent, forcing new and spectacular routes on the rock cliffs near his home.
Soon, he began to climb high mountains of the Alps, where he quickly proved himself. The fiercely competitive French mountaineering milieu began to take notice when the young upstart climber began 'repeating' some of the hardest routes in the Mont Blanc massif.
In 1992, one of France's top mountaineers, Pierre Beghin, asked Lafaille to go to the Himalayas to attempt a complicated and extremely challenging new route on Annapurna, one of the 14 peaks in the world that are more than 8,000 metres (26,000ft) high.
The trip went horribly wrong. After several days of climbing, high on a huge, exposed face of Annapurna, a mountain almost double the height of Mont Blanc, a storm erupted and the two men decided to descend. Beghin had just began to abseil when the artificial anchor popped out. Lafaille was watching his far more experienced rope mate from above, and looking straight into his face, when the rope slipped and Beghin fell backwards into space. Any fall at that altitude is usually fatal. Beghin, carrying the bulk of the two men's equipment, dropped the entire length of the face. Lafaille was left alone, with no food, no water and almost no equipment, and with an arm broken by rock fall. It took him five days to climb down the vertical mile or more of rock and ice to base camp.
Not content with simply climbing the great north faces of the Alps individually, he did nine of them, including the famous Eiger, one after another without pause in 15 days, skiing from one to the next. Instead of climbing with huge expeditions, with ropes fixed to allow easy ascent and escape, and porters carrying tonnes of equipment, Lafaille often climbed alone, almost always without any support, and certainly without any oxygen. In 2002, he and a team of four climbers, all of them among the best in the world, attempted an astonishingly audacious new route on Annapurna. Two turned back, but Lafaille and a partner, pressed on. For five days they climbed along a knife-edge ridge from which the slightest wind or mistake would send them plummeting to their deaths. Their strength held out and Lafaille reached the summit of Annapurna. He sat with his legs dangling over the face he had down-climbed alone 10 years earlier, after Beghin's fall, and wept for the man who had died there. It was one of the most incredible climbs of modern mountaineering.
It is difficult to give an impression of quite how fit and mentally strong someone like Lafaille has to be. Ed Viesturs, the first American climber to scale all the world's 8,000m peaks, was one of the few mountaineers with whom Lafaille was prepared to share a rope. According to Ed Viesturs，Lafaille was a little guy but phenomenally strong, very, very fast and absolutely gifted. He was technically the most talented all-round climber in the world. He could climb anything.
It is unlikely that anyone will ever know what happened to Lafaille on Makalu. The probability is that he fell into a crevasse shortly after leaving his tent, not long after pulling on his boots, making a final phone call home and stepping out into the cold. There would, of course, be no hope of rescue. Just the silence of the high, high mountains an hour before dawn.