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).
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
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