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  Annapurna Dhaulagiri 2005: IVAN VALLEJO RICAURTE: We were ready to enter the kingdom of Dhaulagiri

Dear friends: I write from Dhaulagiri's Base Camp, to update you about my ascent on this mountain.

Between the events occurred in Ecuador and the difficulties I have had to reactivate my e-mail account in Spain, I haven't been able to tell you about the advance of the expedition in the last days.  I want to thank the big help of my companion in the ascent, Iñaki Ochoa, who has helped me greatly to reactivate my account through Cristina and Nacho.  I send first the report I wrote on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 of April.

Saturday, April 16:

The three teammates of the expedition left arrived: Peter Gugemos (Germany), Cristhian Stangel (Austria) and Iñaki Ochoa from Pamplona (Spain); we climbed Makalu together with Iñaki last year, he also has ten eight-thousands and is going for the fourteen.  So, we are a total of 11 members: 6 Italians and 5 of the rest of the world (including Klemen Gricard from Slovenia).

Sunday, April 17:

We had the celebration of Puja in the altar that the day before was prepared by the Nepalese boys of the kitchen team.  The Puja is a Buddhist ceremony in which, the mortal people looking for adventure ask the gods of the mountain to let us into their kingdom, to be part of it and to return alive from there, which is the most important thing, and if it is possible, to get to the summit.

In a part of the altar we lighted a fire, to burn branches of enebro and sandal incense as an offer, symbols of this part of the world.  I collaborated by putting crushed pieces of tobacco leaves that I brought from Ecuador, sent expressly for this ceremony for my dear friends of the middle of the world.  The smoke fumes that surrounded the prayer flags, raised before on the altar, were like a matrimony between the symbols of the Himalayas and the Andes, like the communion between the earthly and the ethereal, between the faithful and the gods, between illusion and reality, between the small and the greatness.

After the ceremony we toasted with beer, tea with milk, and we had snacks of wheat flour with little pieces of tangerine and orange.

We were ready to enter the kingdom of Dhaulagiri.

Monday, April 18:

Ecuador: The people of the neighborhoods of Quito claim until after midnight for the fifth consecutive day and repression gets worse.

Nepal: We had our first contact with Dhaulagiri.  I leave BC at 6h40 in the morning; after crossing a valley of snow close to the camp for half an hour, I arrive to a very steep slope of some 150 meters long.  I pass it without many problems, thanks to the fixed lines installed by the Korean colleagues who came here two weeks ahead of us.  Then, in between two big walls there is a valley of ice very long and flat, and I cross it walking in around an hour.  From the head of this valley there starts a long slope, very steep sometimes, which finally ends at 5,800 m of altitude where our tents will be placed in CI and where the tents of the Korean friends are already.  From there I can see a long ridge that leads to the summit and it is very clear that there is a lot of work to do to get to the highest point.  I am as high as the summit of Cotopaxi (5,897 m) and the bestiality of the mountain rises in front of me.

Getting here took me around four and a half hours, and my dear friend Iñaki Ochoa de Olza took three hours.  How about that!  There is not the least doubt that he is an airplane with turbo fuel.  Iñaki was some weeks ago in Shisha Pangma attempting its summit solo, and I envy the acclimatization he has.  When I was about to get to CI, he was already coming back down; and take notice that he has run 140 times in front of the bulls in the celebration of San Fermín (something I want to do sometime soon, for at least one time) and that today he has flew like a motorcycle.  When I saw him, I told him:

-Ochoita, you are my hero, I'll ask for your autograph at the end of the expedition.

That same day we all left some stuff in CI at 5,800 m: tents, ropes, gas tanks, and we turned around to BC.

Tuesday, April 19:

Ecuador: Quito united in just one voice.  The president is scared for such a reaction.

Nepal: Day of rest in BC.  We plan to leave tomorrow Wednesday to spend the night at CI.  It snows abundantly during the afternoon, so the departure is called off.

Wednesday, April 20:

Ecuador: The president becomes former president.

Nepal: Day in BC.  Romano's birthday (one of the Italian teammates).  Stupendous lunch: Biscayne codfish, birthday cake, candles blown and wine to celebrate.  It was good to have so much snow yesterday!

Iván Vallejo Ricaurte


Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera




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