Summiter Carlos Pauner returns to Everest to attempt without oxygen!
By José Manuel Herraiz
From inside my tent I see a
sparrow jumping on the stones. I ask myself what could have brought it here.
In this primitive and wild glacier it won't find a twig in which to rest.
Maybe it will also ask itself, what we are doing here more than 400 people,
dressed in bright colors, at more than 5,300 meters, looking from time to time
to the heights, as if waiting for something miraculous to happen.
The answer to its question
won't be easy, and it would be more difficult at Everest's base camp. From
the elite climber to the last client of a commercial expedition who has paid
many thousand of euros to get to the highest summit of the world, Everest
gathers at its bottom the richest variety of personalities and motivations
that this sport can give. Does the sporting spirit survive on this mountain?
I think that even the most eccentric American who wears crampons for the first
time at the bottom of the Icefall has a sport ambition, a will to overcome the
difficulties to reach an objective. But there are circumstances on Everest
that make you think that along with the sporting spirit, there is vanity and
commercial interests in very considerable proportions. First, Everest is a
mountain for the masses. More than 40 expeditions crowd both faces. However,
just a few hundreds of kilometers away, one mountain with an exotic name, the
Kangchenjunga, which geologic nature has given 8,586 meters of altitude,
remains almost deserted. How to explain the contrast between passion provoked
by a mountain and the indifference to the other?
Sherpas have in Everest the
prestige of the times of glory of the first conquests. They install equipment
and open the trail so that foreign climbers face a domesticated mountain.
The oxygen bottles of Russian
fabrication are stored out of the curious view, waiting to be used in the high
altitude camps. As Hillary and Tenzing did some 53 years ago.
Under the canvas of our mess
tent, mountain ethics are debated with passion. Each member of the expedition
defends his or her way to approach the mountain. Yours truly, from his
comfortable position behind a barrier, tries to organize his ideas. I think
that everybody who inhabits base camp with the intention of climbing the
mountain can be considered a climber. This condition is perfectly compatible
with vanity, of course! And even with commercial interests. One of the
particularities of this sport is that on the mountain itself can coincide
first category climbers who climb with no oxygen and without the help of
Sherpas, and second, third or fourth class climbers, who don't want to risk or
lack the physical or technical conditions to do it as the first ones. None of
them lack mountain ethics. He or she who lies about how far they went or how
they did it lack ethics. They who state they reached the summit of Everest,
avoiding mentioning deliberately that they did with the help of artificial
oxygen. Yes, the latter also lacks mountain ethics. With their attitude,
they contribute keep non specialized public in confusion, and make a great
injustice by wanting to equalize their merit with the effort of that one who
climbed with no artificial oxygen, a sporting feat who has been done by few.
This is my way of thinking.
I ask myself if these topics are also being discussed in the neighboring
tents, the Iranian, the Czech, the Canadian... It snows hard now that I write
these lines and I think that it would be hard to dominate Everest completely
some day. Everyone who faces it should do it with the humbleness who knows
their inferiority. Waiting that the mountain shows its generosity and lets
them show on its summit. I want Pauner, Pérez and the rest of the expedition
to be among the chosen ones. A hug for everybody who follows us in the net
and a special memory for Charo, family and friends in Spain. So long.
Translated from Spanish by
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