CASTLE PEAK, 7 D'ESPASES

Posted on: March 1, 2006


Last year Eloi Callado and I went to the Miyar Valley, where we established the route Mai Blau (A3+ 6b 70 degree, 890m) on Neverseen Tower. I knew that seven members of the Spanish Federation Team planned to go to the Miyar Valley this summer, and I asked if I could travel from Delhi to the mountains with them. They agreed, and they were the best travel partners I could have had.

The Spanish team set up camp at Phalphu (3900m) in the main Miyar Valley. From there it was an hour-and-a-half walk to my base camp (4400m) in the Tower Glacier Valley. I had returned to realize an old dream: to put up a new route in a remote area, alone. No climbing partner, no people in my base camp, no radio, no connection with anybody: I wanted to experience the silence and loneliness in all its intensity.

My objective lay on the north-northwest face of Castle Peak (ca. 6000m). I started fixing the first seventy meters of my route on September 17. The next day I moved onto the wall. From that point I spent twelve days (eleven bivies) living on the wall.

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It's difficult for me to explain my feelings about the climbing. The weather was sometimes good, sometimes bad, but the route is on the north-northwest face, which receives only an hour of sun a day. The water froze, in the bottles and on the slabs.

I weigh forty-six kilos; each haulbag weighed at least fifty kilos. Usually I employ a fixed pully at the belay to haul. This time, I also used another one, attached to the haulbags themselves. This method necessitated a 150-meter rope for hauling, and apart from the climbing and cleaning, I had to rap and jumar twice on every pitch, but I preferred it to the normal system, since it took half the strength to haul.

I established two camps on the wall (the first at the second belay, the second at the fifth belay), and shared the last fifteen meters with the route Sharp Knife of Tolerance (VI 5.12a A3, 550m, Koller-Kopold-Linek-Stefansky, 2002). I topped out on September 29 and named the route 7 d'Espases (Catalan for "7 of Spades": VI 5.8 A3/4, 480m). Like the Slovaks in 2002, I climbed to the top of the wall (5000m), not the peak. I rapped the route.

With soloing, you feel everything—the best and the worst—100 percent. This was the most intense climb I've ever done.

Silvia Vidal, Barcelona, Spain



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