Catalans on TOP of the world


Fewer than 40 mountaineers have climbed the 14 eight-thousanders -or 8,000 metre peaks- on planet Earth. It is one of the most aspired to feats in modern mountaineering, since Italian Reinhold Messner first achieved it upon scaling Lhotse (8,516 m) on October 16, 1986. Until 2017, no Catalan climber had been able to add their name to the list, but between May and July that anomaly was amended thanks to Ferran Latorre and Òscar Cadiach. They are not the only Catalans to take on the challenge of summitting all eight-thousanders. Lleida-born Juanjo Garra also set it as the main goal of his mountaineering career, but died in an accident on Dhaulagiri (8,167 m) in May 2013 when pursuing his ninth. Osona native Xavi Arias has also stated his intention to climb them all, but he still has eight to go.

Latorre and Cadiach began 2017 with their last eight-thousander in mind. In the case of the Tarragona climber, Cadiach, it was for the fourth consecutive year after three frustrated expeditions to Broad Peak (8,051 m), the last remaining on his list. Latorre had planned to attack his last eight-thousander, Everest, before Cadiach did his, to become the first Catalan to register his name on the famous list. He knew the mountain well, having made six previous expeditions to it, both on the north and south sides, but had not surpassed 8,650 m. Latorre’s aim was to scale Everest without bottled oxygen, as he had done with all the others, but the weather conditions the day he set out and the fact that he had suffered from flu a few days previously made it impossible. Finally, between four and five in the morning Catalan time on May 27, he set foot on the planet’s highest peak and became the first Catalan and the 38th mountaineer in history to conquer the 14 eight thousanders, with or without bottled oxygen. “I’ve had so much support from so many people, it’s really thrilling. At the top I thought first of my daughter, Clara, the only real reason for existing. I hope she’s proud of her father,” Latorre said on the radio the day he made the summit.

In the summer, Cadiach returned to Broad Peak with his fourth consecutive expedition, his fifth in all. The veteran Tarragona mountaineer was still in line to become the first Catalan to climb all eight-thousanders without oxygen. Only 17 climbers had ever achieved the feat, the last two, Italians Nives Meroi and Romano Benet, just two months before Cadiach’s expedition to Broad Peak. His expedition did not start well, as Cadiach had to turn back on the first two tries due to bad weather conditions. So he planned a third attack for July 27. He finally reached the top 14 hours after leaving Camp 3 (7,200 m) and became the 18th mountaineer, and the oldest (at 64 years of age), on the list inaugurated by Reinhold Messner in 1986.

Jornet completes life project

Another great Catalan name in 2017 was that of Kilian Jornet, who took on Everest for the first time in May, aiming to set a record for climbing the world’s highest mountain without oxygen. The mountain runner reached the summit for the first time on May 22 in a 26-hour effort from Rongbuk monastery (5,100 m), a great achievement in itself, as no previous time had been recorded for the route. Only six days later (May 27) Jornet repeated the feat, this time from base camp A (6,500 m), and in just 17 hours, close to the records set by Hans Kammerlander (16’45”) and Christian Stangl (16’42”). With this feat, Jornet completed his Summits of my Life project, which already included record climbs up Mont Blanc (2012 & 2013), the Matterhorn (2013), Mount Elbrus (2013), Denali (2014) and Aconcagua (2014).

Cadiach’s greatest hits

Accounts of Òscar Cadiach’s eight-thousander climbs are to be found in the book, Els 14 vuitmils d’Òscar Cadiach i Puig, b journalist, Francesc Joan, and published by Cossetània. Containing a host of photographs, the book documents Cadiach’s 35 years of expeditions that ended last summer with the ascent of Broad Peak, his final eight-thousander.

ÒSCAR CADIACH Tarragona (22/10/1952)

1. Nanga Parbat (8,126 m)

7 August 1984

2. Everest (8,848 m)

28 August 1995 (with oxygen)

17 May 1993

3. Shisha Pangma (8,027 m)

4 October 1993

4. Cho Oyu (8,201 m)

28 September 1996

3 May 1997

5. Makalu (8,485 m)

19 September 1998

6. Gasherbrum 2 (8,035 m)

9 July 1998

7. Lhotse (8,516 m)

23 May 2001

8. Manaslu (8,163 m)

4 October 2011

9. Annapurna (8,091 m)

6 May 2012

10. Dhaulagiri (8,167 m)

25 May 2012

11. K2 (8,611 m)

31 July 2012

12. Kangchenjunga (8,586 m)

20 May 2013

13. Gasherburm1 (8,080 m)

29 July 2013

14. Broad Peak (8,051 m)

27 July 2017

FERRAN LATORRE Vic (18/10/1970)

1. Annapurna (8,091 m)

29 April 1999

2. Shisha Pangma (8,027 m)

4 October 2005

3. Broad Peak (8,051 m)

12 July 2007

4. Dhaulagiri (8,167 m)

1 May 2008

5. Manaslu (8,163 m)

5 October 2008

6. Kangchenjunga (8,586 m)

18 May 2009

7. Gasherburm 2 (8,035 m)

31 July 2012

8. Lhotse (8,516 m)

22 May 2013

9. Cho Oyu (8,201 m)

26 September 2013

10. K2 (8,611 m)

26 July 2014

11. Gasherbrum 1 (8,080 m)

24 July 2015

12. Makalu (8,485 m)

23 May 2016

13. Nanga Parbat (8,126 m)

25 July 2016

14. Everest (8,848 m)

27 May 2017

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