The Adrenalist

Powered By Degree Men

Treacherous Laila Peak Scaled For Historic First Winter Climb



Located in Pakistan’s Karakorum range, Laila Peak is said to be the mountain that all the world’s children draw. Although mostly unknown outside serious climbing circles, Laila Peak is iconic, piercing the heavens in an almost too-perfect geometrical form.

Spanish climbers Alex Txikon and Jose Manuel Fernandez are a couple of the few people who don’t have to use their imaginations to picture Laila Peak. On Feb. 18, the two Spaniards ascended to the top of the 20,000-ft. mountain, becoming the first climbers to ever do so during winter and just the third group to reach the peak overall.

The way up wasn’t easy. A week earlier the climbers were turned away from the summit because of bad weather. One member of the team, Ramon Portilla, had to quit the expedition due to frostbite. But during the second attempt, Txikon and Fernandez fought for 10 hours against chest-high snow, devastating wind, and temperatures in the negative 30s to reach the top of the 20,341-ft. spire.

Their friends at base camp knew they had made it to the top because their GPS beeped “6,100 meters.” GPS meters don’t lie, especially not those carried by some of the most respected climbers on earth.

Txikon fits the bill. He’s considered one of the best climbers in Europe, having topped both Gasherbrum I and II, and climbed 9 of 14 “eight-thousanders” — mountains over 8,000 feet tall. Next, he’s taking on the tallest of them all. Check his website for updates on Txikon’s spring Everest attempt. It may help if you know how to read Basque.

Add Your Voice To The Conversation: