Having gained confidence from their first ascent of the northwest pillar of Langshisha Ri (6,427 m) during their maiden Himalayan expedition in 2014, Ukrainian alpinists Mikhail Fomin and Nikita Balabanov decided to up the level of commitment a notch. From 18 to 23 October (after five bivouacs), the pair made the first ascent of the coveted north-northwest pillar of Talung. Their ascent was the fifth ascent of the mountain. The first ascent of the adjacent north face was nominated for a Piolet d’Or in 2014, and came after two attempts by Marek Holecek on this same pillar. Fomin and Balabnov’s 1,700 m line, which they called Daddy Magnum Force, is rated ED+. The maximum difficulties are estimated at M6 and A3. The team considers that the route they climbed is close to the maximum of their abilities, and they were glad to be able to take turns each day with the route finding. They descended by the west face, which they’d reconnoitred during the approach, with a bivouac at 6,700 m.
Mick was born in 1956. Since putting up a hard new route on Taulliraju in Peru in 1982, he has been on more than 20 expeditions to mountain ranges all over the world. All of his first ascents have been made in good style and without the use of bolts. His most significant first ascents include the Golden Pillar of Spantik, the north buttress of Tawache, the north face of Changabang, the northwest face of Siguniang, and the Prow of Shiva. Mick and his partner Paul Ramdsen were awarded the Piolet d'Or for the latter two ascents. Mick works for the British Tax Office. He is married with a son and daughter. He was president of the Alpine Club from 2011 to 2013.