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  Annapurna Dhaulagiri 2005: WHERE IS THE SUMMIT OF THE KOREANS?


Part One: May 05, 2005.  Camp 2 at 6,800 m.  Six in the afternoon.

Yesterday (May 4) at five in the afternoon, three Sherpas and one Korean reached the summit of Dhaulagiri.  The comments are that there was a lot of loose snow and it took them 16 hours to reach the summit from their CIII, located at 7,400 m.

Iñaki and Cristian are in BC recovering from the attempt they did day before yesterday.  They reached 7,400 m and they turned around because there was a lot of loose snow.

Luca, Romano and Nieves are in CIII at 7,300 m to leave from there, in the early morning, towards the summit.

We, Roberto, César and me, are in a tent at 6,800 m, in CII.  Mario and Klemen are in another.  All of them, who had the intention of making a summit attack, are exhausted; they quit and I am the only one left, and I will leave at 10 in the evening to join the Italians.

May 04, 2005,  Camp II at 6,800 m.  Twenty after ten in the evening.

After saying goodbye to Roberto and César, I have to auto-evict me from the sheltered tent.  It is cold outside, but not much.  Considering the place where I am and its temperature (-18ºC), I put on the harness, adjust my crampons, put on my gloves, make a short prayer and take off to the ridge of snow to start climbing.

The start is always uncomfortable, the bones are hard, joints are cold and breathing has no rhythm; I unwrap a candy and I put it in my mouth with the hope that the rhythm while I taste it, would catch up with my breath and my steps; in front of me there's only the brief shining of my frontal lamp.  There are no tracks because yesterday's snowfall has covered them again and I have to open my path with each step.

I climb in a very monotonous way because I am on a narrow ridge that doesn't let me enjoy a more interesting path, no matter if it was more difficult.  I go along with the light tracks I discover sometimes in the snow; with the white rope with blue stripes that Cristian and Iñaki fixed two days ago, and with the light of my frontal, of course.

In this silence I can hear everything completely: how my shoes break the crust of snow, how my breath gasps so fast, how I cough so dry and frequent, and how a feel like vomiting now and then.  Between the monotony and the lack of oxygen I feel sleep invading me; the terrain and the activity don't help at all, I can't help but sleep, I sleep knowing I do and I suffer for the effort I have to make.  Even vomit is bearable but fighting sleep is very hard for me, it makes me feel good for nothing, weak, insufficient.  I stop, take out the backpack, I open it and take the canteen out to drink some liquid.  I talk out loud, I cheer me up and I manage to wake up.  I continue up. 

7,000 m. One thirty in the morning. I look above for the lights of the Italians and I don't find them. What happened to them?  Why didn't they leave for the summit? What am I going to do if they decided not to go? I can't get into their tent because there is no room. I decide to keep going until the 7,100 m and turn back if I don't see them.

7,085 m.  Ten after two in the morning.

I definitively don't see the lights of the frontal lights, I suppose they didn't go to CIII.  What sense does it make to keep climbing?  To end my acclimatization, it is enough what I have done so far.  I turn back down.

When I start descending I see bellow a couple of lights that disconcert me completely, because I don't have the slightest idea of who they could be: the Koreans?  Impossible.  They said that with one of them who could make it to the summit was enough, that they would end the expedition.  Ochoa or Stangl?  Impossible.  They are in base camp recovering from their summit attempt.

Iván Vallejo Ricaurte.

EXPEDITIONEER

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dispatches

 

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