La Mascara, Fragile Faces, New Route. Gabor Babcsan (Hungary), Stéphane Bauzac (France), and Leslie Fucsko (French/Hungarian) opened the route Fragile Faces (A4+ 6C, 800m) on the east face of La Mascara, located at the end of the Bader Valley (formerly called the Pingo Valley) beside the east face of the Espada, Hoja, and Cuernos Norte. We began to open the first pitch on January 17. Up to January 25, we opened one or two pitches per day, put up 300 meters of fixed ropes and went down every night to advanced base camp to sleep in our small tent. On January 26, we pulled up our 150 kilograms of materials to the end of the fixed lines and set up our camp with two portaledges. From this point, we opened the last 500 meters at a rate of one or two pitches per day except the summit day, January 30, when we opened four pitches in about 20 hours of non-stop climbing. It was our last chance to reach the summit because of the bad weather and our lack of food and time. We reached the summit at midnight, despite the very bad shape of my shoulder (rock fall destroyed it on the 16th pitch), in snow and completely exhausted. We went down the route on January 31 and February 1 in very bad conditions (snow, wind, and cold temperatures, and without any food for the past two days). The most difficult and worthy part of the route was the first 500 meters. The A4+ and A4 pitches do not require a hammer and were climbed with microstoppers, small ball nuts, 00 copperheads, and long sections with sky hooks and sometimes drilled hooks. We used 14 bolts on the pitches and 34 for the belays, and a few pitons (KBs, LAs), especially in the last pitches. We fixed 550 meters, and used 60-meter ropes as well as a small 12-volt drill.
Leslie Fucsko, Groupe de Haute Montague,France