K2 Magic Line climbers Corominas & Tosas for the south face of Lhotse

Posted: Sep 06, 2010 03:45 pm EDT

They were known as "the Pirates of K2" back in 2004--the Spanish team who achieved the first repetition of the mythical "Magic Line". Summiteer Jordi Corominas and mate Jordi Tosas are now back for another major Himalayan challenge: a new variation route on the south face of Lhotse in pure alpine style.

Not even the local media have published the duo's climbing plans. After a short talk between the two Jordis, Tosas agreed to provide ExplorersWeb with some details.

ExplorersWeb: Hey, how is it that you guys go for one of the coolest climbs of the season and let nobody know?

J. Tosas: Well, we didn't really think about it. We haven't kept it secret, but neither have made the effort to attract media. We usually climb this way, with a very tight budget and very little press.

ExplorersWeb: Since it's no secret, then what's the plan?

J. Tosas: The plan is simple, but how to turn it into a reality may not be as easy though. We want to climb the south face of Lhotse, following a new variation route. We plan to follow the Russian route for a while, then open some sections and end up on the itinerary followed by Kukuzcka. Of course, everything will depend on the conditions. I checked that route some years ago, but now I am afraid things might have changed quite a bit since then; I expect more rocky sections and a drier face, even in the fall.

ExplorersWeb:Are you going alpine style?

J. Tosas: Absolutely! That is how we like to climb. Anyway, we neither have money, nor people, nor time to fix ropes or to set up camps.

ExplorersWeb:Where do you plan to acclimatize before the push on Lhotse?

J. Tosas: That's a good question. We will first climb a 6,000-meter peak near Ama Dablam, but we would like to reach a higher altitude before attempting the Lhotse face. We actually have a permit for Everest's Khumbu ice fall, since we may descend Lhotse via its normal route.

Thus it would be just great if we could acclimatize up on Everest-Lhotse route up to the common C3 and even try at least a day trip to the South Col. That way we would be in good shape for our goal.

However, we have to check the route first. It would be great if there were some other team on the spot. We could talk with them and try to collaborate, in order to reach some higher ground.

Editors Note: Japanese solo climber Nobukazu Kuriki and American Eric Larsen, with a team of Sherpas, have already confirmed plans for Everest's south side route.

ExplorersWeb:Will you two (the "two Jordis") be climbing on your own?

J. Tosas: There's actually a third member in the team, Israel Blanco. He is a young ice climber, strong and skilled, but otherwise on his first Himalayan experience. He is acclimatizing with us in order to see how it goes. We will decide when the time comes whether he will join us on Lhotse or not.

The south face of Lhotse rises 3.2 km (2.0 mi) in only 2.25 km (1.4 mi) of horizontal distance, making it the steepest face of this size in the world, according to Wikipedia. Tomo Cesen claimed a solo climb back in 1986. Slovenian Andrej Stremfelj, Pavel Podogornik and Nejc Zaplotnik reached approximately 8,250 meters in a bold attempt back in 1981.

Polish 14x8000er summiteer Jerzy Kukuczka fell to his death whilst climbing the face together with Ryszard Pawlowski in 1989.(Story corrected Aug 7th).

The only complete and undisputed ascent of the Lhotse south face was achieved by a Russian team in 1990 - the climbers used supplementary O2.

Japan's Osamu Tanabe climbed the face in winter 2007, but stopped on the summit ridge before the highest point.

2004 was K2's 50th anniversary of the first ascent. While hundreds of climbers crowded the Abruzzi Spur, a Catalan team led by Oscar Cadiach went for one of the most demanding routes: the Magic Line, with only one previous ascent. They were different, and they wanted to be with a Jolly Roger Pirate flag signaling their base camp. In a season full of controversy and fights between climbing teams, their reports were honest, exciting and focused on a climb they clearly loved. Jordi Corominas summit became a thriller when he got beyond the point of no return, his option to summit or die. He made it, and survived a 48-hour non-stop climb. And then the Magic boys lost one of their own, the soothing element in their group, the character who contributed most to keep them all together: Manel de la Mata, who died in Oscar's arms.

Jordi Corominas is one of the most respected climbers in Spain. A full-time guide and climbing teacher, he avoids the media and fame. After Manel died, he is in charge of the Spanish team of young alpinists.

Jordi Tosas is his workmate and often climbing partner. They climb the Alps, Andes and the Himalayas on a yearly basis, although little is known of their feats.

#Mountaineering #topstory #interview

Jordi Corominas
courtesy Jordi Tosas, SOURCE
Jordi Tosas red-pointing an 8C in Spain.
courtesy Jordi Tosas, SOURCE
The south face of Lhotse.
Image by Jordi Tosas courtesy Jordi Tosas, SOURCE
K2 memories: the 2004 Magic Line team members, under the Jolly Roger flag. L/R: Oscar Cadiach, Agustin Giró, Manel de la Matta, Jordi Tosas and Jordi Coromminas.