team that reached the summit on May 14. From left to right: Thress, Norbert Joos, Markus, Chris. Only the last three made it to
DATE FOR THE SECOND ATTEMPT
Destiny shuffles the cards,
but we play them.
morning of Tuesday, May 16, before breakfast, I went looking for Norbert
Joos, his teammates and Sherpas to congratulate them with enthusiasm for
reaching of the summit of Kangchenjunga. Especially in the case of Norbert,
who finally got that coveted goal, after four consecutive years of failed
attempts. In his project of achieve the 14 eight-thousands, now he only has
EVEREST left. What envy, right?
hugs and after a toast with Appenzel liquor, the only question was: How was
the weather? (of the day of the summit, I meant). Not so good, not so bad, they
said, but it was a very long day.
Twelve hours, almost thirteen, to get to the summit, they
Twelve, almost thirteen hours for the summit!,
Ferrán came later with the same intention and the same question: How was the weather? I think
that at the end we all left with the same sour taste in our mouths, thinking
that we should have moved the date a day earlier to attempt the summit
together. But anything we thought, said or wondered, there simply was no
place for that, just conjectures, and the achievement of the summit was just
a matter of a fact: to be on the highest point, period. That's it.
South Americans started to prep for our second attempt.
the three camps were totally stocked, and that we were stupendously
acclimatized, the only thing we needed was a very good weather forecast to
The famous weather forecast and Joao's petition
personal case it is clear that one of the weakest parts, where the rope can
snap in this thing of the eight-thousands, is the weather forecasts, I can
say this because of personal experience; it is a matter of bad information
or bad interpretation, to then zassssss...! everything crumbles down. And
sometimes there is no turning back when the crumbling is unrecoverable.
But back to
morning of that same May 16, Fercho and I met with our friends of "Al Filo"
to set a new date for the summit attempt. I was counting on the help of a
weather forecast that was sent by Kari Kobler, my Swiss friend who was with
clients on Everest, by the South Face. On the other hand, Ferrán contacted
Silvio Mondinelli, a common friend who was going after the summit of Lhotse
(8,516 m), a mountain that is next to Everest in the same Khumbu area,
asking for the same. I should note that, despite being Everest and
Kangchenjunga separated by some 200 Km in a straight line, normally both
mountains get the same weather. Silvio told Ferrán that the forecast
pointed as excellent days for the summit the 19 and 20 of May and that he
personally preferred the 19 for his summit of Lhotse, having the 20 as a
safety day, that should let him leave the mountain. A totally logic
conclusion, I myself have always defended the safety day. There was no
discussion with these arguments: the 19 would be the day for our summit.
afternoon, after having taken that decision, Joao visited us with two
concrete petitions: to join us on this new attempt and to be part of any of
the two expeditions, because his was picking up their things and leaving;
having reached the summit, he had nothing to do at the bottom of
acceptance was immediate on both sides. The only but Joao found was the date we
had selected for the summit. Since the practically had just descended from
his recent attempt, he doubted that he was totally recovered to leave from
Base on the next day. Joao asked us for a little time to think.
A couple of
hours later, Joao said that he was still not ready to recover and face a new
attack. He didn't thought prudent to use the last bullet he had left and
opted for a risk, taking in account the size of the mountain: attempting to
climb alone, two days later.
decision made us uneasy because of two reasons: the risk of going solo, and
not having his support on such mountain. In his absence we considered the
idea of delaying the departure and attempt the summit on May 20. I have to
be very sincere to say that we anguished a lot thinking about the advantages
and disadvantages, the pros and cons of delaying the departure for a day.
Such was our uneasiness, that we saw the need to vote so that the majority
was the decision of not moving the date: the summit day would be, God
willing, May 19. I clearly remember that one of the arguments we had was
the enormous anxiety that we would have if we stayed one more day at Base.
I voted for
the 19 for the summit day.
The dice had
Iván Vallejo Ricaurte
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
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