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
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
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
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
7,085 m. Ten after two in
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.
Translated from Spanish by