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  Carlos Pauner Mt. Everest 2005: ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE CAMERA


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

By Javier Pérez

We have gone through the Khumbu Icefall for the third time.  We have reached C2 at 6,400m, located in the Valley of Silence, at the bottom of the Southwest of Everest.  The idea of this third trip was to go directly to C2 to spend the night there and continue with acclimatization.  We left early, but the sun goes up fast and the heat builds among the chaos of the blocks of ice of Khumbu.  This heat flattens me, so when we got near C1, I stayed there to spend the night, and Carlos is going directly to C2.

On the next day, early in the morning, I leave from C1 to C2, to join Carlos.  At that early hour, the whole Valley of Silence is mine.  The sun has still not risen and the temperature is low, some -10ºC.  I prefer this light cold, to the heat of noon.  It's strange, but in this Everest for the masses, I don't see anybody.  I enjoy taking some pictures with this precious light that floods everything, and a little later the first far silhouettes appear on the superior edge of the serac of Khumbu, down there, under C1.

I continue my slow march of acclimatization, I pass some small crevasses, which the Sherpas have previously marked with little bamboos to avoid surprises.  Some other ladder lets me pass the huge transversal crevasses that cut the inferior part of the Valley of Silence or Western Cwm.  Once this rupture zone is passed, the Valle is very flat, or so it looks, although it really has a light slope and the length is tricky.

The silhouettes that follow me get closer.  They are very loaded.  Now I distinguish them: they are Sherpa porters, the "tanned" as we friendly call them.  To the side of the huge backpacks they carry, hanging from their shoulders and front, I see the first bottles of oxygen since Katmandu.  I keep walking in a slow and constant rhythm, in contrast to the repeated runs and stops of the loaded Sherpas.  The sun starts to heat the surroundings, the temperature rises quickly in this glacier package called the Valley of Silence.  I see the tents of C2 closer, there are a lot of them here and there.  Camp 2 is located on the lateral moraine that descends the west ridge of Everest.  Suddenly a group of very loaded Sherpas pass me at full speed... I distinguish one of them... is Pemba, my porter.  I call him by his name, we smile and we shake hands and give mutual pats on the back.  He stays behind from his group a little, there are just 500m to go.  He start running after the group and I go with him, 100 meters later something tells me I can't run so much.  I stop and they go.  Some minutes later we all meet in C2.  The Sherpas have ended their carrying for the day and take off for Base.  I use this magnificent morning to shoot all we have covered with Carlos.  The parts of the crevasses and ladders, and the panoramas of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse take us all morning.  By dinner we are in Base.  The next assault will take us to C3 on the flank of Lhotse, over 7,100 meters.  But that will be in a few days.  Now we have time to recapitulate, rest, put our head in order for the next efforts, to look to the Khumbu Icefall hoping it still respects us and admire the silent effort of the Sherpas, anonymous protagonists of this Everest.

I would like to thank with these lines the sponsors who have made possible this Everest for me: the Government of Aragon, the City of Zaragoza, Heraldo de Aragon, Ibercaja, Montañeros de Aragon.  And the collaboration of Casa Artiach, Alpina Sport-Artic, Ortosport, Telnet Redes Inteligentes S. A. and IES Los Enlaces.  I can't forget my family and friends who have suffered and enjoyed the mountains so many years with me. 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dispatches

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