Asia, Pakistan, Karakoram, Baltoro Muztagh, K2, Magic Line, Second Ascent, Death

Publication Year: 2005.

K2, Magic Line, second ascent, death. On August 16th Oscar Cadiach and Manel de la Matta joined the summit bid along with Jordi Corominas from their last Camp at 8,100m. The first two decided to turn around at 10:00, from 8,300m, due to cold and exhaustion. After a short rest in the tent at 8,100m, Oscar and Manel descended together back to Camp 3 (7,500m), on the Pulpit glacier. They reached Camp 3 at 16:00 and spent the night there. Jordi Corominas reached the summit in a solo bid at 24:00. He descended the Abruzzi, finally stopping to rest in Camp 3 after 30 hours of continuous effort.

The next morning Manel and Oscar kept descending. Despite the increasing bad weather and their exhaustion, they were both happy and content. On their way down, they talked about future projects and new climbs to attempt in the next months. They slept in Camp 2 (6,900m). The next morning, Wednesday, they climbed back down to Camp 1 [approx. 6,300m] on the Negrotto Col, which they reached early.

It was then when Manel, for the first time, began to complain of acute abdominal pain. It prevented him from breathing normally. His anguish increased in the next hours. Oscar, always by his side in the tent, helped Manel to re-hydrate, eat, and keep warm. Communication with BC was broken by then, as the severe cold had exhausted the batteries in the climbers’ radio. But Wednesday evening at 20:00, Oscar was able to send a short SOS: “Help Negrotto,” over the radio. One hour later, in the middle of a snowstorm, Valen Giró, along with Baltí Ghu- lam, set of from BC with some food and medical supplies. The high avalanche risk forced them to retreat shortly after. At 3:00 in the morning August 19 they left BC again to climb up to Cl on the Magic Line.

Meanwhile, in Camp 1 at Negrotto Coll, at 4:30 a.m. on August 19, Manel de la Matta passed away in Oscar’s arms.

The Spanish Federation of Climbing and Mountaineering have raised controversy in the past two years, refusing to give out their annual award due to “lack of good enough climbing.” But this year, the federation decided, was different: There was one expedition worthy of receiving its annual award, the Spanish version of France’s Piolet d’Or: The ascent of K2’s Magic Line.

The “Piolet de Oro” award has no monetary price attached, although some small grants are given each year to other outstanding climbs accomplished by Spaniards. Manel de la Matta was awarded a post mortem “Creu de Sant Jordi” (Saint George’s Cross) medal reserved for outstanding people and dignitaries in Catalonia, where Manel lived.

Adapted from