on the summit of Kangchenjunga
I REACHED THE SUMMIT OF
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
Iván Vallejo Ricaurte
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
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