By Javier Pérez
Since we finished our
acclimatization period on May 14, sleeping in C3 at 7,100m, we knew our next
transit by the Khumbu Icefall would be to attempt the summit of Everest,
8,850m. It would be the sixth time we would pass that dangerous passage.
Unluckily all that were just plans.
It is true that when we were
in C3, Everest was hard on us, with a morning strong wind and temperatures of
-25º, which made us rush down using the steep fixed lines of the Lhotse Face,
hollering because of a finger that wouldn't get warm. Even so we were happy
and excited of having slept well in C3. the acclimatization had finished in
the planned time and the strength, illusion and motivation were intact to
attempt the summit.
We then went down some days
to Lobuche, 4,900m, where we recovered strength and healed our throats,
irritated by the very dry and cold air of the high altitude camps. Everything
seemed to go normally. We were attentive for the definitive attack.
In Lobuche, we got each day a
weather forecast, not too good. Some disperse precipitation, but above all
wind. The "jet streams", winds of over 100 Km/h that run above 9,000m, where
the planes fly, were playing hide and seek with the summit of Everest. Trying
to get to the summit in one of those sunny and windy days at those speeds,
with temperatures of -30ºC, meant to risk a few fingers, if not life. The
right thing was then to wait for the famous "windows" of good weather, when
the anti-cyclone from Tibet and the strong winds coming from the Indic Ocean,
move the jet streams and an equilibrium in the atmosphere is established, with
dry days, without snow and relatively calm winds. In the last years, that has
happened systematically starting from May 10-15, allowing more than 100
climbers each year to reach the coveted summit.
As in many of the games of
chance we have played these days, we have trusted our luck, fate and
statistics, waiting during those days our "window" to summit. But like
gamblers forced to win, we have lost this game with Everest. The window has
not come, doesn't look like coming, according to the forecasts from here to
These days of waiting, from
that May 14 going down from C3, winking at the summit of Everest, have been
like the Marx brothers cabin: a mix of laughter and good mood at times, when
the wind seemed to be weakening, and a mix with all kinds of alternative plans
and desperation when base camp had a few inches of snow. We also had all kind
of visionary weather men visiting base camp that planed to summit, without a
doubt, on the windiest days...
We have been through all
kinds of mood, knowing that as days go by, the summer monsoon came and its
daily snowfalls -end of the season-. Also, in these warmest dates, the Khumbu
Icefall, already melting, becomes a game of chance with the fall of their
blocks and avalanches. We have already gambled a lot at base, with the
weather, to risk more in that treacherous Icefall. If we also count our brave
and strong Sherpas, real motors of this Nepalese side of Everest, the risk
that something happens to them, who transit by the Icefall with loads of up to
40 Kg., it makes us tell them "expedition finish". A mix of relief and
sadness shows in their proud faces. They didn't want the other groups to
climb if we didn't. But for the moment, nobody has climbed by Nepal. Good
luck for those who stay here. One more look up to confirm that the wind
doesn't stop, and the "feather" - the long cloud made by the strong wind in
the heights - is still there. We are leaving.
Today, May 26, our match with
Everest has ended. Two months here have been enough bet. Maybe it will
happen on a better year. This huge mountains are like that.
Our thoughts are on the way
to Zaragoza, looking for our loved ones. I want to thank once more our
sponsors and collaborators for their trust. It wasn't this time. But our
will, illusion and motivation are still intact to go soon to another ascent.
But that is another story...
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