Gonzalez-Rubio on the Summit K2
Kangchenjunga Base Camp
Greetings on this Thursday 27, back in BC after
the acclimatization process that took place at 6,600m.
The summary of our activity is this: On Monday 24
we climbed to C1 at 6,200m and we spent our first night as part of the
acclimatization. What a night, my God!, how you suffer up there when you are
just beginning to acclimatize. On the next day, Tuesday 25, I had a bad day
because of a kind of flu or allergy I got, I had my nose completely stuffed
and a very nasty headache around my eyes. I was totally wasted on Tuesday.
Fercho, with a lot of solidarity, stayed with me almost all morning and
decided to climb at noon some
200 meters of the trail to C2, to continue
On Tuesday night, another martyrdom similar as
Monday's, with the advantage that contrary to not having slept at all, I could
sleep at least a good little half an hour, as they say in my town.
Despite the beating suffered the day before and to the new bad night, the flu,
the allergy or whatever it is, I got a truce and I feel better now.
At nine in the morning of Wednesday, Fercho and I
loaded the backpacks with tanks of gas, ropes and a tent, and we left with the
idea of reaching the place where our friends had deposited the material the
day before. I felt wonderful, I forgot about the allergy, the two bad night
and I left again happy of having recovered from my fears and worldly pains. I
thought for sure that I had eye bags that hanged down to my mustache and that
I had wrinkles in the corner of my eyes, deep and groovy, a la Robert
Redford. But I was also sure that my soul and my spirit were shining again,
new, ready, happy to be what they were and to belong to whom they should
That Wednesday as soon as we reached 6,400m where
our teammates were the day before, when we got there I swallowed half a little
of a drink in one gulp, I asked Fercho to give me some head start and I took
off to climb
200 meters of
virgin terrain on this slope of Kangchenjunga. When I finished the length of
the rope, I fixed a lock to an aluminum stake, I came down really happy, we
celebrated with a hug and we went down to Base to rest and eat well. So now I
sent two reports from this place, which I gladly wrote for you. You will get
the first one today.
The alarm clock rings at seven thirty in the
morning, there is a spectacular day out there and the Sun, it has been shining
on my tent for half an hour by now. I take it all with calm, there is no
rush, I have the whole day today. The plan is to climb to C1 and spend there
two nights as part of the acclimatization.
I exit my tent, greet the Sherpas and the group of
Swiss, as well as Tilok the cook of our expedition, Pasang the Sherpa from the
Basque team and on the way to the mess tent, impersonating the paisa accent a
tell Fernando: What's up Fercho, how is it going?, Are you going to drink a
red one with me or what? I go to the mess tent, I wash, dry and sit to
have breakfast. During the breakfast time, after which I setup my backpack,
despite that Bacilos is singing Cara Luna on the MP3, I feel a lot of anxiety,
I feel uneasy. I reckon that all these clear symptoms are called
pre-competition stress in the sporting circles. Being the worrisome that I
am, I check the list I made last night again and again: everything is in
order, nothing is missing, however, my anxiety continues, indeed, I need to go
to the bathroom once again although I had gone early in the morning.
If everything is in order, why should I worry?
Fernando left ten minutes ago, I don't have anyone
to share this feeling, so I have to face it alone, talking to myself aloud,
and I say it: Ivansito, you are afraid of the two nights you are going to
spend at 6,200mm, aren't you? The anguish of not being able to sleep consumes
you again, because of the lack of oxygen, right? It makes you afraid that you
won't open your eyes the next day, curiously after not being able to close
them for a moment the whole night to make the most simple exercise of
sleeping, and you will feel nauseous and you will feel like throwing up. That
is the fear, right?
And when i face fear, I feel relieved. I turn off
the MP3 because it doesn't help at all, I check the backpack for the last time
and I remember to save this precious card that my little daughter Kamila sent,
inspired on my last day of training when she went with me to the Olympic
Stadium track. And if worries go away sweetening the mouth, I peel a maracuyá
candy, I pick up the backpack and I get ready to leave with my fear to C1 at
When I say goodbye to Daki, Ang Nuru's wife, the
Nepalese Sherpa that administers our base camp, I ask her once more if she has
any news about the health of Pasang (54), her uncle, who was working as
kitchen assistant in our expedition, but who had to be taken down last
Saturday to Ramche, because he had a strong chest pain. She says she doesn't
know anything either. I say goodbye to Daki, the rest of the cooks of the
other expeditions and I get into the ice, I enter the glacier, the innards of
The first time, just to climb from BC to the depot
at 6,040, it took me almost five hours because of the bad conditions of the
snow. Today, not only to the dept but to C1 at 6,200m, with the open trail
and the help of fixed lines, it took me less than three hours. I arrive fine
to C1, as I use to say in these cases, like a flower, when I still have
not lost glamour, the strength, or the sense of humor. I greet everybody with
a hug, as I like it and as it should be, and when I hug Mikel, from the Basque
team, he says to my ear: there is very bad news for you and for Fernando. What!
What happened? Pasang has died this
morning in Ramche, possibly because of pulmonary edema.
I freeze, still hugging Mikel, thinking about
Pasang, who God, Buddha or Shiva have in their glory, about the pain of Nuru
and Daki, his two nephews. I've always thought that in the tremendous impact
of the death of a loved one, the worst part has to be taken by those who are
left behind, because of the pain of their absence.
The friends of the other expeditions share their
solidarity and their feelings. Then Fernando comes, I let him rest and while
we are installing the tent, I kindly let him know the news. The hit is maybe
stronger to him because he knows Ang Nuru's family since
98, in an expedition to Manaslu. We finish installing
the tent, it starts snowing hard and we are forced to get inside of what will
be our home for the next two days: a miniscule space of no more than three
After having rice and meat stew with abundant
olive oil for dinner, Fernando and I get comfortable, each one in their
sleeping bag, waiting for the suffering: let the hours pass, the long hours
with little oxygen at 6,200m.
NEXT REPORT: THOSE HOURS WITHOUT SLEEP AND WITHOUT
Iván Vallejo Ricaurte
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
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