May 21: I was supposed to meet
the Sherpas of the Korean expedition that went to equip the route with ropes
that night, I always had company. But they finally told me they would climb
on the next night. Now I knew that there were no hypothesis on the 22, Vitor
Baia had it all planned: it took 12 hours, between midnight of the 20 and noon
of the 21, it was 12 hours of a window with winds of 25 Km/h. I had to face
winds of 45 Km/h. You can tell now if you see me, I look like a clown, with
my black nose. But nothing serious.
And then the Koreans did not
go for the summit, I went alone at four in the morning, I left from 7,800m up
to 8,000m, more or less, with terrible cold, I had a mask that finally didn't
work well, I had a ball of ice next to my nose... At eight hours the sun came
up and I could get rid of that nastiness, I also shot some pictures, Everest
seems to be about to explode, there is still a lot to go, I continue by the
corridor that takes me to the summit until a find a very well equipped route,
with ropes of previous years, I am at 8,200m and there are only 300 meters
left for the summit. When I see that I won't need the backpack, where I had
50 meters of rope, ice pitons and other equipment, I leave it right there, I
only take a canteen with half a litter of liquid.
I became dehydrated and on
the final part I faced crossed winds, happily the path was marked by ropes and
abandoned oxygen bottles that are there to work as policemen signaling the
way. I get to the summit and turn around, I came down, I even fell two times,
it was a way to descend more quickly... But it was a bad idea, I put myself
in risk in a stupid way, I left myself be carried away with my stubbornness,
in the final part I was out of control, I slipped, I didn't like that at all.
I arrived to camp 3 at
7,200m, and my friend Helder had picked up my material, including the sleeping
bag, to "help" me... and I spend there one more cold night. In fact I was so
tired that I didn't have energy to go next door, to another tent, to get
another sleeping bag, I didn't, I have given it all, a extreme fatigue,
apathy, resignation to what could happen.
May 22: On the next day I
woke up still with cold and I started to unmount the tent with a hammer in my
hand (because they end up sealed to the ground, after all these days in the
same place, gripping the ground). Just to show my bad shape, it took me two
hours to unmount the tent, I was really exhausted. I picked up my backpack
and I went down to camp 2. I didn't have energy to continue and, luckily,
there were some Sherpas of other expeditions that knew I was the only one who
had reached the summit and that I was in that state. Well, against all my
principles, I got a five star treatment... They put a plate of rice in front
of me and I didn't have strength to chew, I was exhausted.
Anyway, I arrived to base
camp. Even so, the descent was hard, gee, a thing that Helder and I do in two
hours, with a very nice rhythm, now took me six hours. Urken was down there,
the friend from Pangboche, that took my backpack - came here with 22 kilos, he
was like an angel, in the altitude - and all the people were waiting in the
camp, to have a party. Well, I didn't want anything. My party was to get
inside the tent. I found myself in silence and naturally, I was also tired
mentally, emotionally, I even cried when a Spaniard went to congratulate me.
I'm serious, if my story can be used once more as an example, they won't have
doubts that this is a very violent sport.
On the other hand, I was
grateful to see that my degree of fatigue was like in Everest, if I had to
climb 300 vertical meters more, I think I would have done it. But I can't
hide that I was scared when I saw myself alone in the mountain. On the other
side, on Everest, I saw some little lights move, it was as if I had company.
But after the moon set, it was dark and thunderstorms were seen all around, I
couldn't see the lights anymore, and I thought: "What am I doing here?" I
turned around three or four times, but then I reconsidered to continue to the
summit, I think that I continued because I am stubborn.
Sorry for that, but this
mountain, for me it looks like a bit astonished, Pascal [Debrouwer, climbing
teammate that died on Everest in 1999] is still around here. When I came to
Nepal, I got a message from Nathalie, Pascal's wife, that said: "If you see
him there, tell him we love him a lot", and that has always been in my head...
Well, it is done, Helder is
feeling better now, however he is frustrated for not having reached the
summit. Now we are going to accelerate the trip to Lukla, so that we don't
lose the reserved flights, one that will take us to Katmandu and then another
to Europe and Lisbon. Joao
Joao is the only Lhotse summiter os 2005 to
Translated from Portuguese by
Joao is best known as an Summiter of Everest without oxygen. He is a member of
Dan Mazur's Lhotse expedition this year (unguided of course).
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