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  Carlos Pauner Mt. Everest 2005: THE FINAL WAIT


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

By Carlos Pauner

Time has been passing by, here at the bottom of the highest mountain of the world.  Almost without realizing it, the days have gone by as sand between the fingers. We have been in this place for a month and now is the moment to do a balance. We have climbed 5 times through the Khumbu Icefall.  In five times we have climbed between the unstable blocks of ice, we have jumped the crevasses of the top part of the glacier and we have gone across fabulous and impressive ladders that fly over abysms of ice. We installed camp 1, which was destroyed a few days ago. We have slept in camp 2 in several occasions, a very nice place, because it is close to the final part of the mountain. Also, we have climbed over slopes of the wall of Lhotse and we spent a night in camp 3, at 7,200 m of altitude.  It was not a nice night, because the altitude and the cold kept us from an acceptable rest, but we had to do it. After a night in the heights, the wind of the morning shook us at its will. Wind, a lot of wind and its effects were clearly seen in some of my fingers. There was no time for anything, only to go down quickly and to find heat for the affected limbs.  Luckily it was nothing serious, and now, after getting to base camp, my sensitivity is back to normal.  However, this is a warning for navigators.  You don't play in the altitudes and the law of high mountain are the only ones to obey.  With this activity in high altitudes, we know the acclimatization is finished.  Everything that had to be done in the high altitudes is done.  Now it is time to rest, to wait, to examine the weather forecast for that window of good weather that lets us make the definitive final attack to the summit. There is just one more time to go through the Khumbu Icefall. For good or bad, the expedition comes to an end.  Now each one has to play their cards. The friends of oxygen have their bottles distributed all over the mountain. Their tactic is very simple.  Go up to camp 3, again, sleep there with oxygen and start that artificial trip to the heights without stopping breathing that fantastic gas for a moment.  In my case, the tactic is much harder.  From camp 3, I still have two days of travel through the thin air zone.  Two days of effort, each time in a thinner atmosphere.  Uncertainty in the results, because although I know I am going to give it all in the fight, I can't forget that it will be a very hard challenge where success is only a tiny light at the end of the tunnel.  I don't know, everything is still to be done, everything to win and also everything to lose.  You can see that these tense days of waiting are still to come, waiting for the time to jump on the arena, to start the final fight.  This is a moment to concentrate in simple things, if letting the mind go free downwards, towards life.  We hope that the good weather window opens, I mean, days when the wind is inferior to 40 Km/h, between May 20 and 25.  When we have a certain idea of which will be the best, we will subtract back the necessary days to get to the summit.  This way, we will establish the day when we have to leave base camp.  It can't be before 5 days, because after our climb to 7,000 m we need at least those days to recover.  So, one can only wait, with our weapons high and with the certainty that, in a little time, this expedition to Everest of the year 2,005 will be history.  We hope it turns out right.  Carlos

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dispatches

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