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  Mt. Everest 2005: Carlos Pauner Crevasses and Ladders


Makalu, K2, Kangchenjunga 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 Jorge Rivera

Dispatches

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