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  Mt. Everest 2005: Valencia: CLIMB UP OR CLIMB DOWN, THAT IS THE QUESTION


Update: We've been here for a long time, we've been looking at the meteo for a long time, patience ends and we get tired, always thinking with coherence between the will to go up and above all knowing how much we risk being up there with bad weather.

It is not the time to say let's go up without looking at the weather we would have.

Personally, I am mad of being here so many days, standing the bad weather, watching the snow fall, having cold, I remember the night in CIII, inside the tent, we had -20ºC, very cold, now it is not the moment to decide and take the wrong decision, but I have to admit that I would like to take my gear and go up the mountain, I wish we could climb, I would like to, but we all know that it doesn't depend on how the climbers feel, the mountain has the last word and for now it is still mad and blowing, maybe Everest also gets a cold and this year got a flu, bad luck, a thing of fate, but it happens this way.

People get tired and go away, many say this year is impossible, I think that standing here waiting for the three days of good weather to come, that is an achievement.

Thank God we are three teammates and, truth and experience, we have not been wrong so far, some of the people that attempted the summit have had to go, others even worst, they went away frostbitten or injured.  The mountain is very close, almost on top of us, but the distance makes it impossible to cover when you have winds of some kilometers per hour that make it impossible to make a few steps.

The day we went up to camp III, we suffered slight frostbite in the tips of the fingers, no mount is worth the trouble, to leave a part of us there.

Some days ago they left us a video of an expedition of Everest in 2004, they were from Chile, some of the climbers were 50 years old and with little experience, but the weather was good and they reached camp IV, and in the night they attempted the summit, when leaving the tent at 8,000 meters they had -10ºC, not a perfect night but incredibly good, with no wind, the mountain is like that and maybe last year Everest had a load of medicines to avoid getting sick and it all went well, on May 15 they reached the summit with sun and a magnificent view.

Now I ask myself, what is more difficult, to attempt the summit or to resign to it?

We have been a lot of time here to do the mountain, to try to climb to the highest altitude of the world, we are here for that, because we like it and we wish to reach that summit and have that unique view, Makalu, Cho Oyu, and down there, Lhotse.  I feel so much like climbing, that's why we are still here, that's why we haven't quit, that's why we are still waiting with the hope that one day we see three friends hugging each other, with tears in their eyes and enjoying the moment.

What would be more difficult?  To go back home or to stay here until they say it is over, the monsoon is at the end of the valley, and it comes wanting to make this a little more difficult and wants to get everybody wet here.

We have minutes for everything, we are excited sometimes, but we would get depressed if it wasn't for the friends by our side, there is time to think a little about everything, the weather, the wind, and we have another danger, as the days go by, the Khumbu Icefall is worse, the seracs tumble down and the ice melts.

These are the last days and we can't be wrong, the decisions have to be taken calmly knowing what we are going to do, our heart tells us up, as high as possible, but as I said, after so many days waiting for the meteo, it is not the best moment to oversee it and make a senseless attack, we are people willing to climb up to 8,848 meters, but we still have some reason and we will use it until the end, no matter if we go up or down, that will be the right decision.

There are a few people left, a few climbers, a lot quit, we are around a hundred waiting for that window, few years have seen so few summits. 

A good climber is the one that grows with adversities, but also the one that know how to read ridges, kinds of snow, dangers of avalanches and instead of having trouble he avoids it staying a few days inside his tent until the storm passes and the summits are still there, with more snow, with more ice, but always there waiting for us to come back and enjoy them.

Maybe you want to know if this is an excuse...  It is not and every good climber will understand me and will know that sometimes it is better to resign the summit than to come back with bandaged hands, you remember I am sure, very close to the summit of Alba, some of us with our hairs standing up, throwing away the piolets and canes, it also happened to us in Punta Oliveiras Arenas, remember Jesus?

BC starts to fall apart, the tents are left in the wind, the ice melts and the rocks fall down, last night David went out the tent and in that moment an avalanche of rocks fell down, sparks were seen when rocks hit rocks, the landscape is changing and where there was a big lake before, now there are rocks and a little ice.

The liaison officers say that the Icefall is in bad conditions now, it is dangerous and it is falling down, we will have to be careful but always knowing that we don't depend on ourselves and the seracs can fall any day, any time. 

I open my eyes, where am I?, the other night in a sleeping bag, in a tent, with walls full of ice, the sun went up a while ago, it is 7:30, as everyday my stomach tells me that I have to exit from one tent to a smaller one.

I change clothes, fine socks because it is not too cold in the morning.  I open the double door and there is another white day, it snowed hard yesterday, it was very cold, the thermometer goes down and down every afternoon, I put on my sneakers and glasses, I go out and feel the wind of the Himalayas.

The landscape is pretty, today the summit of Nuptse can be seen and Pumori is impressive as always, I think that there is no one else trying to do this peak, everybody has left.

There are no clouds, there is little wind, as odd as it seems, nobody is going up or down the Khumbu on a day like this.

All five of us get to the mess tent, tea with milk and the cook brings us again bread as stone, maybe some bird will break its beak trying to eat this Nepalese bread.  Some have cheese tortilla, others cereals as always, because David is resisting with colored water and a lot of cereals.

The snow begins to melt, stones fall from the front wall, pieces of seracs are heard tumbling down from Pumori.  Little by little BC is falling apart, everything changes, there are even some tents hanging among the ice.

Birds come to BC, of different colors, some with black head, others with red head, there are also a lot of chovas, they are everywhere, the most daring birds enter the mess tent searching for something to eat, it will be bad when they find the bread of our cook.  The truth is that they are very funny, and with pretty colors.

Everybody talks about the meteo, the wind, when can we climb, as always there is nothing clear, in fact, David is now doing some graphics with all the meteos we have since we arrived to BC, he is comparing them and trying to figure out an evolution, to know how wrong they are and how right they are when they forecast the weather, one conclusion is that we can't trust them when they forecast more than three days in the future.  David is enjoying it, besides not giving the notebook away, he is different, because this morning Jesus Calleja cut his hair and he trimmed his mustache and beard himself.

Irivan also trimmed his beard, he doesn't look like Endika anymore, now he looks like the modern with goatee number two, he is very funny with his new look.  Now we are five teammates and we really get along well, we support one another and the days pass by in a better way.  We have a main objective, climb Everest and come back down in one piece.

In the morning, doing tests, some showers, David's hair cut, few news, we read the visitor's book, we cheer up with your support, little news from Spain and the rest of the world, we talk with the Sherpas, we take a walk around base exchanging information about the weather, you see a little of everything.  Every time they talk about a different summit day, time goes by, but we are still here, we wish we have an option, now we also know that we are in the descent curve, I mean in respect to acclimatization and strength, because when the body is so much time in the altitude it degrades and we lose the strength we had.  A Brazilian saying goes "mains un dia, mais un dolar" (another day, another dollar), we would be rich, all the sayings have something to say.

While I write this, a small avalanche has fallen right on the Khumbu Icefall, the thing gets ugly, there is even a river going under the enormous cascade.  Come on Expeadicts, a big hug to everybody from 5,300 meters, among magnificent stones, but with splendid views all around.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dispatches

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