French skiers Carole Chambaret, Tiphaine Duperier and Boris Langenstein just got a coveted first descent down Laila Peak in Karakorum, Pakistan. Planet Mountain reports the trio were the first but Italian Cala Cimenti and Swiss Matthia Koenig skied down shortly after.
The spectacular sharp needlepoint peak has a 1500m northwest wall offering a constant slope of around 50 degrees, so this first descent was no layup. In fact there have been attempts to ski it since the summer of 2005 when Scandinavians Fredrik Ericsson and Jörgen Aamot made it within a few hundred meters from the peak before turning back due to weather. All subsequent attempts to ski the peak have been unsuccessful due to difficult conditions including two expeditions that ended with fatalities.
The French skiers had been focusing on Laila Peak for years before conquering it. Carole Chambaret (32), Boris Langenstein (33) and Tiphaine Duperier (30) are all from Val d ‘Isère where Chambaret works as a ski instructor, Langenstein is a mountain guide and Duperier is training to be mountain guide (this will probably look good on the resume).
The group have been in Pakistan’s Hushe valley since April and where they established base camp on the Gondogoro glacier. After pushing three times up to 5300 meters, the made their move on the first available weather window and left directly from the base camp at 01:00 on the morning of May 11th. Chambaret explained:
“Just over 2000 meters uphill in a grandiose and varied environment, between the open slope and the snow corridor, mixed climbing and ice climbing, both south and north exposure.”
After climbing for 12 straight hours they reached the summit with perfect weather:
“Good weather, no wind, a great moment of happiness at the top, then an incredible descent of 1800 meters in fresh snow! The beauty of this pyramid is simply incredible.”
On May 25th the Piedmontese Carlalberto Cala Cimenti and the Swiss Matthias Koenig and Julian Dänzer also reached the summit. While Cimenti and Koenig managed to make the second descent but Dänzer lost his ski at the top and was forced to go downhill with crampons (can you even imagine).
After a day’s rest Cimenti and Koenig returned to the mountain to remove the tent from Camp 1 to 5100m and then decided to continue climbing. After spending the night at 5700m on they continued ascending and skied the mountain immediately next to Laila Peak. The peak was apparently nameless so they dubbed it Laila’s little sister.