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  Mt. Everest 2005: Carlos Pauner FIRST IMPRESSIONS


Makalu, K2, Kangchenjunga Summiter Carlos Pauner returns to Everest to attempt without oxygen!

By Carlos Pauner

Yesterday, April 16, we left for the first time from base camp.  We have been here for three days and we had time to organize base camp, to get used to it and it's time to work now.  Without getting up very early, we left for the first obstacle of Everest: the Icefall.  The glacier that lies between the west face of Everest and the East face of Nuptse, breaks in its final part, because of the slope, in a chaos of blocks of ice and crevasses.  The only way to reach the superior part of the glacier is to climb this labyrinth of ice towers and deep crevasses.  Luckily, differently from other mountains, it is used here that Sherpas (a Nepalese race who are hired by some expeditions to help on the ascent of the mountain) are in charge of installing ropes and metal ladders, on this difficult passage.  In this form, each expedition pays a high fee to the selected group of workers, finding a perfectly traced trail, keeping each expedition from wasting time and resources in something they do wonderfully.  In this form everybody is happy and this dangerous passage is rigged with lines fixed with metal screws on the blocks of ice, and those crevasses that are hard to jump because of its width, they are provided with a metal ladder, or several of them joined together, to work as a bridge.  Sensations are strange.  To cross these huge and deep crevasses on steps that are constantly balancing, makes us feel strange, although the technique is simple, we hurry to cross them as fast as possible, just in case.  Little by little we have been gaining altitude over the Icefall, avoiding huge frozen pyramids, crossing zones of bluish blocks and hardly keeping equilibrium over these painter ladders which are used for something else.  We go slowly, because our process of acclimatization has just begun and each step uses our effort and breath.  We go filming, taking pictures and leaving little by little, under our steps, the base camp which looks like a bunch of randomly set colorful tents.  Even at this altitude, it is hot.  The sun's reflection on the ice and snow, with its intensity, literarily grills us.  It's funny to think that tonight we will feel exactly the opposite, the sharp dagger of cold that will make us curl in our tents.  We reach the 5,800 m. mark and, satisfied because of the job done, we turn around.  Today's job is done and with this gain of altitude, in some way he have told our body that it has to continue acclimatizing, that this is not over at base camp, that there is still a lot to climb and our body has to be prepared for that.  We will rest for a couple of days and the next time we leave will be to get to Camp I, at 6,100 m of altitude.  No rush, we still have time and we have to let the acclimatization process go its way.  For the moment, the vibrations can't be better, including those of the ladders we have crossed and the ones still to cross.   

Carlos

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dispatches

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