Summiter Carlos Pauner returns to Everest to attempt without oxygen!
By Javier Pérez
It's been 52 years since
Hillary, Tenzing and company were at the Khumbu base camp, where we are now at
5,300 meters. The terrible Icefall, which Mallory contemplated from Lho Lha
and said it was not climbable, we have climbed it two times since we arrived
to base camp on April 13.
The Khumbu Icefall is a chaos
of ice blocks and crevasses that forms when the glacier spills from the border
of the Valley of Silence at some 6,000 meters over a steep slope towards base
camp, surrounded by Nuptse to the East and the Wes Shoulder of Everest. This
way, the glacier breaks in a thousand pieces, forming the Khumbu Icefall.
Certainly this cascade is
still that place that Mallory discovered. But since a few years ago and
thanks to the incredible work of a group of Sherpas, its transit is much safer
and fast than in those days.
These Sherpas install
abundant fixed lines, using ice screws and snow stakes, on the steepest
passages of the Icefall. Numerous crevasses among the chaos of seracs are
crosses by aluminum ladders, which the Sherpas fix with mastery. Without a
doubt, passing these ladders, more than twelve up to camp 1 at 6,100 m., is
the most discomforting moment while climbing the Icefall.
The longest ladder, a union
of 5 pieces of ladders, covers a huge crevasse, with a depth of 15-20 meters,
which gives access to the Valley of Silence, before getting to camp 1.
For Carlos Pauner and me,
these ladders have let us film some spectacular views while crossing over
them. In fact, on the great final ladder, Carlos went up and down 5 times so
that I could film him from above and from below... and reflect this
spectacular and curious passage, in the film we are shooting, in digital high
definition (H-DV) format, about the expedition. José Manuel Herraiz completes
the filming crew that is going up with Carlos, who along with Heraldo de
Aragón and Ibercaja are producing this documentary.
Without the work of the
Sherpa group that makes this Icefall passable, it would have taken us 3 weeks
to cross this passage in a much unsafe way.
We hope that this wild
passage, civilized somehow by the unstoppable work of the Sherpas, would
permit us a quick and safe transit to the superior part of Everest.
When in a few weeks we go to
the summit, crossing once more the Khumbo Icefall, we will look back to Lho
Lha, imagining that George Mallory is still there, looking horrified, and we
will wink to him.
Translated from Spanish by
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