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  Mt Everest and K2 Summiter: Ivan Vallejo Kangchenjunga 2006: The Summit Story !

Ivan Vallejo on the summit of Kangchenjunga


Kangchenjunga Base Camp

Very dear friends of Ecuador and the world.

Last night, at nine to be exact, I returned with my summit mate Joao Garcia from Portugal, to the shelter of Base Camp after two exhausting days of descent.  How long and anguishing those two days were, I couldn't wait for the moment to get here and stop walking, stop walking.  Especially the last two hours, from C1 to BC, I suffered a lot because I puked constantly because of the exhaustion I had, and the only thing I threw out was bile because I had not eaten almost anything in three days. But I finally got to BC, I cried a lot, hugged Tilok, the cook, Daki, Ang Nuru's wife and I sat to continue crying to enjoy the happiness of being safe to tell the tale of the summit of this precious KANGCHENJUNGA that surely is one of the mountains that will leave a deepest mark in my life.

I will write and share with you several chapters that I have lived with huge intensity this week that just ended and that had as a happy ending the summit of Kangchenjunga on Monday, May 22, 2006 at five hours, six minutes and twenty five seconds in the afternoon.  For now I just sent a succinct summary of the facts that surrounded this very important achievement in my life. 

The story is as follows.  As you know on Wednesday May 17, Spaniards and South Americans left from BC towards C2, for our summit attempt.  That day we got directly to C2 as planned.  On the next day, Thursday 18, we climbed from C2 to C3 (7,250m), we stopped there for a couple of hours and continued directly to C4 at 7,700m.  it was a very long and exhausting journey taking in account that we covered a difference of almost a thousand meters of altitude and we were close to the eight thousand meters mark. 

We installed two tents, a large one for the Spanish and a small one for Fercho and I.  The afternoon was clear but it was cold, that made us suppose how the conditions would be on the next early morning. 

At two twenty in the morning we left from 7,700m thinking about the summit.  Indeed it was cold and it was colder when the wind blew.  In the slope that leads close to the summit ridge we took turns to open the trail in the fresh snow, it was an exhausting work if you think that we were close to the eight thousand meters and it was really cold, my feet, especially the right one was aching a lot.  The thermometer read 28 degrees Celsius below zero.  At ten in the morning we were close to 8,200 meters, we were psychologically more animated because the Sun shined.  We continued climbing.  From eleven in the morning a kind of blizzard started to surround us, it was bearable at the beginning, light, but sadly it increased until it was a storm around noon, the altimeter read 8,375m and we sadly saw that it was impossible to continue.  All the opinions coincided that we should turn around. 

In the middle of the blizzard and with mixed feelings I descended wondering why this Kangchenjunga was being so hard with me, was it personal or what?  When we gotto C4 the storm continued roaring and we were relieved because of the decision we took, we picked up the tents in that camp and during the descent to C3 the storm diminished and around three thirty in the afternoon the summit of Kangchenjunga and its surroundings were beautifully clear.

What a pain. What an anguish.  What an ache.

And my immediate questions were: so much effort, so much dedication, so many hours of training and so many illusions had to end now, like this, in an instant because of a sad four hour long storm. 

When I got to C3 I was devastated, I had worked so hard for that mountain and a storm, with dedication, finished us demolishing all the illusions.  I didn't sleep at all that nigh, I suffered a lot, until I heard Kangchen around dawn and I understood what it meant.  It said I had to attempt once again, to join Joao Garcia from Portugal who is from Ralf  expedition and because of the destiny, Joao had no teammates and was already on the way with the intention of climbing solo to the summit of Kangchenjunga. 

That's it, that was my opportunity. That was what Kangchenjunga had to say, that I should try once again, although it meant a brutal physical effort.  I shared my idea with my friends, that I should try along with Joao since the weather was improving but the proposal was not well received, because it meant to attempt the summit once more, to immediately turn around without resting, without going down to Base, because Joao was already on the way to C2.

I was afraid of the craziness of the idea, it took me a couple of hours to think it well and finally I told Fercho: Brother, I stay, I think that this is the only opportunity we have left.  Will you do it? 

Poor Fercho suffered with my decision.  Finally he was very honest to tell me that such effort, of a new attempt without resting as needed after going down from an eight thousand (because we had reached 8,375m), it was to much for him. At noon of Saturday 20, Fercho and the Spanish went down to Base Camp and I was left alone with my decision waiting for Joao Garcia in C3 at 7,250m). 

On Sunday 21 we met at C3 and continued to C4. 

At 3:20 in the morning of Monday, May 22, we left for the summit, two minuscule human beings facing an enormous mountain, impressive and precious.  I will tell you later how our ascent was, beautiful, hard and anguishing but with a marvelous ending.  Please be patient, because right now we are packing to go back to the incivilization.  I have the porters practically on my neck.  The important thing now despite my face burned by the cold, my stomach destroyed by anxiety and for having eaten so little and so bad during one week and my dehydrated body, is that I am happy, immensely happy because despite my fears, my doubts, my worries and anguish I trusted in myself and I could make the steps I should to make it to the summit of this precious mountain that gave me nothing for free, but gave me absolutely everything. 

With a lot of love, from the tranquility of my tent, a day before leaving my place at Kangchenjunga Base Camp.

Iván Vallejo Ricaurte


Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

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