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  Mt Everest and K2 Summiter: Ivan Vallejo Kangchenjunga 2006: GIVING UP AT TWO HUNDRED METERS FROM THE SUMMIT


Dear friends: GIVING UP AT TWO HUNDRED METERS FROM THE SUMMIT

Human character is like a balance: carefulness in on one side and audacity is on the other. The shy careful one and the indiscrete audacious are balances with just one arm, useless junk.

Angel Ganivet

  The alarm clock rings at eleven thirty and I start to melt snow to fill the canteens, despite being at 7,800m I feel good with my acclimatization, because I feel nauseous but not much, and that is good.

 At two in the morning I am the first one out, despite the cold it is not difficult to put on my crampons and to tie on the harness, then Juan, Mikel, Ferrán, Josu and finally Fernando come out.

 Because of my debt of the previous day, I go ahead to start opening the trail.  At two ten in the morning we leave C4 towards the summit.  I get into the snow with enthusiasm, with vigor, with strength, I don’t have the pain of the heavy backpack on me to make me useless.  I climb up opening the trail dying of happiness!  The agreement is that each one will do this job for half an hour; Juan is climbing behind me, he takes his turn and I go to the end of the line.  This firefly of twelve feet goes climbing over the steep slope of Kangchenjunga. 

When my turn comes again, my thirty minutes of meditation come, my entire body making zen, living this unique moment of the exercise of breathing and climbing.  My mantra is the sound, the action of breaking the snow, stepping deep, to impulse and make exactly the same with the other foot, while I breath deeply hoping that the poor oxygen we have gets into my lungs and from there it spreads to my blood.  Those thirty minutes are precious, not thinking blankly, just waiting the chatzzz! of the boot when it goes down deep to make it be in rhythm while I inhale and exhale.  The time doesn’t matter, I just climb and while I do it my teammates and me get the benefit of it.  I never know when my turn ends, Juan always pats me with the sky cane and gets me out of it, and he goes ahead and opens the trail.

In one of the following turns, I lose the concentration halfway, the toes of my left foot ache a lot because of the cold, I try to move them so that they won’t get colder and I momentarily feel afraid of what may happen to me, but I feel comfort thinking that everybody is going through the same.  You know, when everybody hurts…  On the next turn I rest, take out the canteen, hydrate and read that the thermometer is 28 degrees C below zero.  That’s why, mother!  We advance, we climb, we breath, we feel sleepy, we complain of the cold, but we continue climbing. 

Finally the sun shows up but far away from us, since we are on the South wall we won’t get it!  With the light I can manage to see where our BC is and I think about my tent, I miss it because it should be lit by the sun and warm.  I think about the song we all parents sing sometime or another to our kids: sun, little sun, warm me up, today and tomorrow… 

At 10 in the morning we finish the Handrail and we turn right to the corridor that leads us to the summit, at 8,586m.  We stop again and Mikel decides to go back, he is very worried about one of his feet, he doesn’t feel it at all and says: I don’t want to go through Zaragoza, thinking about the very famous MAS Clinic, with Dr. Kiko Arregui as head of staff, specialized in frostbite and amputations. 

               On the corridor the snow is lose but between Juan and I we take care of it.  An hour later, at eleven, that milky sky gets it together and it starts to snow.  We don’t pay attention and we continue climbing.  I face a long piece of line, over a horrendous lose and dangerous snow.  Sometimes I go deep down to my waist and when the crust breaks  all the snow falls on my teammates in pieces and dust.  That part is not long but it is exhausting in those conditions.  I reach an old line and I ask for relief.  It is now noon and the snow has turned into a blizzard that hits us hard on our bodies and faces; I check the altimeter and it reads almost 8,300: two hundred meters away from the summit, I think.  I also check the barometer and it says the storm is getting worst.   

In the middle of all this we have a meeting.  How much is left?  Should we go on or not?  Should we wait or not?  Can we continue in these conditions?  The blizzard shakes us hard and leaves no room to think. 

Should we go down?  Yes.  What a shame, we go down! 

Shitty weather forecast.  Wasn’t the 19th the day for the summit?  Why, why us?  I zip up my feather jacket and I continue following the steps of Juan, Ferrán, Josu and Fernando. 

I cant believe it: two hundred meters from the summit after almost twelve hours of work.

NEXT CHRONICLE: Burying the defeat

Iván Vallejo Ricaurte

EXPEDITIONEER

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Millet One Sport Everest Boot  has made some minor changes by adding more Kevlar. USES Expeditions / High altitude / Mountaineering in extremely cold conditions / Isothermal to -75°F Gore-Tex® Top dry / Evazote Reinforcements with aramid threads. Avg. Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz Sizes: 5 - 14 DESCRIPTION Boot with semi-rigid shell and built-in Gore-Tex® gaiter reinforced by aramid threads, and removable inner slipper Automatic crampon attachment Non-compressive fastening Double zip, so easier to put on Microcellular midsole to increase insulation Removable inner slipper in aluminized alveolate Fiberglass and carbon footbed Cordura + Evazote upper Elasticated collar.

Expedition footwear for mountaineering in conditions of extreme cold.  NOTE US SIZES LISTED. See more here.

A cold weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus Mons is the perfect choice for 8000-meter peaks. This super lightweight double boot has a PE thermal insulating inner boot that is coupled with a thermo-reflective outer boot with an integrated gaiter. We used a super insulating lightweight PE outsole to keep the weight down and the TPU midsole is excellent for crampon compatibility and stability on steep terrain. WEIGHT: 39.86 oz • 1130 g LAST: Olympus Mons CONSTRUCTION: Inner: Slip lasted Outer: Board Lasted OUTER BOOT: Cordura® upper lined with dual-density PE micro-cellular thermal insulating closed cell foam and thermo-reflective aluminium facing/ Insulated removable footbed/ Vibram® rubber rand See more here.

 

 

 

 

 




 

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