FROM BASE CAMP
Dear friends of Ecuador and
Yesterday, Wednesday April
13, we arrived to the bottom of Dhaulagiri in its West face, where we
installed our base camp at 4,600 m. of altitude. We began this approach trek
nine days ago in Beni, a little town to the northeast of Katmandu, located at
830 m. of altitude, with 120 porters for 19 members among climbers going to
the summit of Dhaulagiri and trekkers who want to know this beautiful trail.
In nine days we have passed the most diverse weathers, vegetations and
landscapes, from such a low altitude up to 4,600 m.
The first four days were of
generous fertility expressed by the intense green of the vegetation: thick
trees, rice terraces, abundant foliage and water everywhere. But those colors
and vegetation are only possible when humidity is thick and evolving; in this
trip I have confirmed that these conditions are not what I like: everything is
sticky, wet, sweating like a beast and, of course, the damn and daring
mosquitoes, who when they recognize that under this skin there is Latino
blood, they spread the news to their comrades and I become easy prey of the
invasion of Nepalese insects. At the end of the journey a finish with a taste
of salt, smelling of sweat and scratching everywhere.
I think that the existence of
mosquitoes is one of the very scarce errors of the marvelous perfection of
creation. My reflection is this: During the approach trek I march with my
simple humanity of 60 kilos and 1.64 m. of height happy for my life, shooting
pictures, greeting the Nepalese, laughing with the kids; you know, I go
involved in my own thing of loving adventure and the outdoors, and just like
that: chosen, on the crosshair; then attacked, sucked, suctioned, dispossessed
of my own blood and with that my red cells that I need so much to climb these
mountains. And even worse, annoyed afterwards with this itch that doesn't
last a minute, an hour or a day. No; it lasts days and days until it leaves a
track in my remembrances and my skin. All this abuse without the approval of
the victim, that is me. So there is no right dear friends, there is no right
for such damage. I imagine many of you, if not everyone, sometime have been
abusively attacked by a mosquito legion and then you will agree that the Great
Architect of the perfect creation was only wrong in the matter of the abusive
Well, back to the topic of
After the fifth day, already
above the 2,000 m. of altitude we changed one green for another, the green of
the rhododendron trees: tall, robust and with their particular elegance. It
was cold and I was happy; mostly because of the temperature, because in these
altitudes those flying bugs lack the will and courage to go up.
On the fifth and sixth day we
crossed the thick bamboo forests with just a narrow trail to advance though
its thickness. The oxygen was enough for the greenness of the bamboo until
From the seventh day we
entered a more pale landscape, painted by a kind of thin hay, but above this,
emerging imposing and precious: the DHAULAGIRI. That day was the first
encounter and my first conversation with The White Mountain.
Days eight and nine, above
4,000 m. of altitude, the terrain was all mountain, with the great southwest
wall of Dhaula always present and we approaching it, from the bottom of a
snowy gorge, run by a yellow and milky torrent of snow and ice coming from the
top of the mountain.
On Wednesday, April 13, we
arrived to Base Camp at the bottom of Dhaulagiri. We all gathered here,
climbers, trekkers, helpers, assistants and cooks, to adjust the details of
what will be our home for the next month.
From Base Camp at the bottom
of DHAULAGIRI, an affective embrace.
IVAN VALLEJO RICAURTE
Translated from Spanish by