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  Expedice HI-TEC V-LITE Nanga Parbat - K2 2005: Helicopters – not just one, but two – arrived to pick up Rakel.

Update: June 20, 2005 --Finally the weather improved and woke up by the noise of engines. Helicopters – not just one, but two – arrived to pick up Rakel. Yesterday Petr and I paid her a visit. We brought with us a little bell and a tube of sweetened cream to bring her a good luck. She was resting on the tabletop in the Spanish mess tent and all the life of the Spanish expedition was buzzing around, almost as business as usual. Saturday – the day when the ice fell on her – was her 28th birthday !!! But she seems okay, it won’t be that bad.

Steadily, the weather gets warmer, for the first time I was able to wear sandals. After a month, there is finally grass all around the BC. 

A general assembly had been called for 6PM. The topic was – how do we do with her. With Nanga Parbat, that is.  For us, the assembly outcomes means just one thing: we’ll still be alone. There are several climbers here whom came already acclimatized from Everest or Dhaulagiri, but no one rushes to lead the crowd.

If everything is fine, we will leave during the night of June 21-22. We built our C2 on June 2. Since then, we “checked on the tent there” twice. It will be June 22 – and C2 is still the highest camp we have!

We still need to get the last two wild days out of our muscles and minds. [Translator's comment: see Radek’s earlier reports on their BC-C2-BC trip on Friday and on the rescue on Saturday]. I still have cramps in my hands and arms from carrying the stretcher. Also, we have dropped off our body-heat packs somewhere. So it will have to be the good feeling that we have not been hanging about and frittering time away that will warm us up. And by the notion that we have a Czech flag in a backpack. We will keep our hopes that it will  take an airing ...

Radek Jaros, HI-TEC V-LITE Nanga Parbat-K2 Expedition.

Nanga Parbat BC, June 20, 2005

Update: “The Killer Mountain” – this name sounded in our ears all the way from Islamabad to the BC. Yesterday, June 18, we planned a day of a rest. In our bodies, we still felt the 16+ hours of the previous day’s climb from the BC to C2 – in a raging thunder storm all the way up through the Kinsshofer Wall  [My report of yesterday] -- and back to the BC in a single day. A day off would have been well deserved. Well, life meant otherwise...

By now, there are about 20 climbers in the BC.  No other expedition has been above C1 as yet. Quite surprisingly, it looks like there is just one high-altitude porter among all the climbers, quite a difference, as compared to the Everest!  Among them, our friend Ivan Vallejo, who summited Shishapangma a day after us last fall.

It is the afternoon,  I am relaxing in my tent, doing my English lessons, when I notice an unusual fuss.  Petr and I get out of our tents and go to check out what is happening. A piece of ice fell on a tent at C1. A girl has been injured, it looks like a crushed pelvis, she will need to be carried down on a stretcher. In a hurry, we throw our most necessary climbing stuff to a backpack, several groups are already on their way to up to the C1, others are already fixing a stretcher out of tent poles.  When it is ready, Ivan tries to take it under his arm... if he only knew, how the path over the glacier looks like and that it takes good three hours to get to the C1. I have the stretcher fixed on my backpack. We leave the BC as the last ones, but after three ascents to the C2 the acclimatization shows. I reach C1 just at the dusk. Their tent is about 5m apart from ours and more exposed than ours. I look at the girl, she is beautiful. She has already got a shot and so there is a smile on her face.   Perhaps because she sees the stretcher. She is in a sleeping bag, wrapped in foam pads, well fixed and bound by ropes. The stretcher will be needed only past the glacier, lowering on ropes comes first. Sixteen climbers collaborate in the efforts, Spaniards, Japanese, French, Ecuadorian, Swiss, Czechs. Before the BC, Pakistani join. In the melting snow, sinking waistline-deep, the progress is excruciating.  We rotate often, every ones a while some one falls apart completely exhausted. The weather forecast fulfills, and we are caught by a snow storm, in lower parts changing into a rain. Getting over the crevasse part is a real topper! Everybody is so overwhelmed and exhausted that no one seems to even think about the risks. The dark is merciful. The girl groans, but she is brave. After another shot, the smile returns on her face.  At the end of the glacier, the stretcher comes to use. The path goes through a horrible terrain, carriers rotate regularly, if one sinks deep into the snow, another climber rushes to take over.  Not a single time she fell out of the stretcher!!!  It is 10PM when I am telling her: this is the last 100 meters. In a few minutes we cautiously lay her down in the Spanish tent. When I am leaving, she catches my hand and whispers thanks. I clasp her hand, stroke her face and after a month I am giving a kiss to a women. For a courage. Hers ... or mine?

Radek Jaros, Nanga Parbat BC, June 18, 2005

Note: The family is aware of the accident, the news was held until after they were notified...


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