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   Nanga Parbat 2005: Everest Summiter IVAN VALLEJO RICAURTE: ON THE ROAD AGAIN

Near the Himalayas, above 8 thousand meters of altitude.

Monday, June 13, 2005: When my colleague and friend Jefferson Pérez (Olympic march champion) goes to a competition, all the time he has used in training and in the preparation, which includes physical, mental and psychological aspects, has to become a reward for him in the couple of hours that pass from the start line to the achievement of the medal.  The same goes to Nicolas and Geovanny Lappenti (Ecuadorian professional tennis players), for them, the two, three or the sets they need are their fighting and effort space, hoping that they will achieve the coveted victory with the last racket stroke.  In my case, I train in the Metropolitan park, in the Olympic stadium, in the valley of Limpiopungo or the Cotopaxi volcano, getting ready for my special competition, I do it hoping that all the time I use on the mountain searching for a route, climbing, going down, installing the camps, acclimatizing, waiting when I have to wait and climbing again when the right moment comes, will be useful to step in some moment on the highest point of the mountain.  And when I get there I will surely cry, take out the flag of my people, register the moment with a picture and go down and, if God permits, come back alive to Base Camp.

Precisely thinking about that moment, in two of the highest summits of the Himalayas, the Dhaulagiri and Annapurna, I was preparing all this time.  On April 13 along with other five teammates, we reached the bottom of Dhaulagiri at 4,800 m of altitude, to settle our base camp.  How immense those eight-thousands of the Himalayas are!, my view was not enough to touch them with my gaze, or at least, the summit of the mountain.  From there the whole process of acclimatization had to be done, as well as the location of the altitude camps, going up and down the times that were necessary until everything was ready, just waiting for the final moment.  We did it all by the book, we had installed the three camps, the blood was full of red cells and we had a lot of enthusiasm to get to the summit.

You know all the rest, which I detailed day by day from the Dhaulagiri's BC: the fake summit of the Koreans and our consequent mistake, the two summit attempts from which we climbed down fearing the dangerous conditions of the snow, and finally the sad news about the death of Christian on Annapurna, hit by an avalanche and other three injured, precisely when we thought in some option for that mountain.  It was clear, or really clear, that for us the two mountains were over, we had nothing else to do than to pack and go back home.  That moment, which I had dreamt, on the summit, happy and thanking life, could not happen this time.

I can't deny that it is very hard and it hurts to take the decision to give up the summit of a mountain of the Himalayas.  Because it is not just to leave the summit behind; there are a lot of situations behind that: the illusion and the concept to do it, in the beginning; then, the months of preparation and training, with the rigor and discipline that means; later to prepare the expedition: the food, equipment, send the cargo, etc.  And then to fly to Europe, then to Nepal, and more logistics there: backpacks, drums, customs, more food, carriers, ten days of approach trek to the mountain; to finally reach BC and leave start the acclimatization and the ascent of the mountain from there.  But that is the material part.  It also matters, a lot, the time that I am far away from my family, to be father of my children just by phone during all this time.  In summary, all this is behind you when you give up a summit, but one has to know how to do it and probably what one needs the most is HUMBLENESS AND PATIENCE (because I will go back to Dhaulagiri, not doubt about it).

Next year promised to be really great, two eight-thousands in two months and the list would grow.  But that was just a plan, reality was very different; that is why it is good to remember that I never have to spend the money before I earn it.  It all depends on me, the plans, the training, the preparation, enthusiasm, the will and experience.  Nothing was left, I gave it all from my part, but I RESPECT the conditions and the mountain very much, because nature is great, is powerful and I am an insignificant mortal with just ten eight-thousands on my back, but I love life and the idea to continue climbing mountains.

When I finish writing this note I am well above 8 thousand meters of altitude, it is 6:35 in the morning, if is -43 degrees Celsius outside and of course I don't have supplementary oxygen according to my principles, but I am very comfortably seated in seat 45D of Pakistan International Airlines.  In less than an hour I will arrive to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, from where I will start another challenge, if GOD permits, my 14 CHALLENGE: reach the summit of Nanga Parbat, 8,125 m, in the Karakorum mountain system.

From very high, comfortably and warm, I send a big hug.

With my love,

Ivan Vallejo Ricaurte


Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera




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