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   Nanga Parbat 2005: Everest Summiter IVAN VALLEJO RICAURTE CLIMBING TO CAMP 3


I am up before the alarm clock goes off, I wake up seven minutes before five in the morning.  Hassan snoozes by my side with his large humanity wrapped in the feather sleeping bag.  In the seven minutes I have left I think about Karma, in the pretty eyes she has and in the last dance we had very close to each other to the tune of Joe Arroyo's remix: "...otra, otra noche otra..."  ("...another, another night another...")  After the party we searched for a long time, street after street, where to have a latté until we finally found where, between sip after sip while we dipped our Magdalena we kept strutting: "...otra, otra noche otra".  Before we fell asleep, we read poems of Benedetti and Belli.

The alarm goes off; I am not with Karma anymore, which starts with K, but with Karakorum which also starts with K, but at 6000 m of altitude in C2 of Nanga Parbat.

Que bonitos ojos, que bonito baila, que linda sonrisa que tiene (such pretty eyes, how nice she dances, such cute smile she has).

I throw the feather sleeping bag to a side and I go for the little stove, I turn it on, I place the aluminum pot on it and I throw four pieces of ice to melt and to prepare breakfast.  Hassan has a little headache as part of his acclimatization, and I, thank GOD, feel like a turkey before Thanksgiving.

My teammate has tea with milk and chapattis for breakfast, which he brought from Base Camp, and I have green tea with anis cupcakes.  When I open the zipper of the tent I see the Diamir valley, long and precious; there in the middle, a dark serpent of ice crawls down and in its descent it licks the gray sides of the mountain and one or another green spot that cheers this sea of stones and glass.  Above, on the other hand, a silver thread, a sharp sierra whose sparkle comes to my precarious balcony.  Then, that other sea of big and large mountains, breaking from below, with strength, the valley of Baltoro; over there must be K2 and also Broad Peak, the Gasherbrum, the Chogolisa.


The location of C2 in this Kinshofer route of Nanga Parbat is a reduced and scarce place, so the tents are precariously hanging from a fine ridge that has precipices on both sides.  These places take, logically, to confinement: all the tents together, sometimes one on the other, without space to walk between them, and of course, zero privacy.  But that is the least, the main problem is that since there is so little room, the scarce area for the tent is sometimes mixed with shit, because the place of the restroom is not next to, but very close to the tents with the obvious problems.  But I don't complain at all, it's what we have, it's what we have in these conditions and after practicing for a long time I have learned to share the space, and very well, with the limitations, the simplicity and the lack of comfort.

To prove my words, my stomach is always on time, immediately after having breakfast enjoying the view of the Diamir Valley, it reminds me the need to go to the restroom.  I think about it, not twice but ten times, because the designated place is 30 meters below my tent and to get there I should put on the crampons, put on the harness and get tethered.  So much things to do and I am with a rush.  My only option is to think in the side of the mountain opposite to my tent, with the little detail that it has 60 degrees of inclination, is covered by hard snow and if by chance I slip, there is a slide of 1,200 m waiting for me.  That way anyone would concentrate, right?

While I put on my crampons, my gut barks with despair and I talk to it: easy, easy, here we go.

I get to the side of the mountain and for a moment I feel vertigo when I see the big hole that could swallow me in a second.  Standing up looking at the precipice I ask myself how can I do it, since I am leaning on my piolet with my right hand and I am holding the tether with the left.  I stand still, I abandon the piolet and with just one hand, making pirouettes, I pull my pants down.

Doing what I have to do, for a moment I laugh of myself looking at me in such trance and in the conditions for something so simple, so usual.

I don't talk about scatological topics much, but today it looks valid to share with you the eventual discomfort we have to go through, when we are living in a bird cage located at 6,000 m of altitude.

At 7:10 we leave the camp, the trail from C2 upwards is interesting: short passages of rock and snow; then a ridge whose sharp edge breaks the light in two at 7:30, to spill on both sides.

We climb slowly because of the job of fixing clips, fixing ropes, and recover the ones of the last year, which can be handy now.  Then we find a layer of ice of 150 m, so steep that it breaks our calves because of the effort of climbing just by sticking the frontal end of the crampons.  But this job is like that, of strength and patience.  We finish this long passage that ends in a flat space, where we can sit after 6 hours.  There are pictures shot, of course, filming, canteens and rest at 6,500 m.

But C3 is still at 6,800 m.  After half an hour of rest we start again, the sun burns us down to the bones.  Taking off everything I can, I remain with a t-shirt and before they win, I go ahead of the pack to enjoy the job of opening the trail.  There I go, sinking in the wet snow, breathing, swimming at times and climbing in others. Hassan can't take it anymore and he says he is going back, I ask for his part of the tent and I continue upward.  Then Nacho and Martin also turn around, there is only Ricardo and me left.  I feel the joy of my acclimatization after Dhaulagiri.  My heart is fine, my lungs run like a clock, and I am happy with this.

At 3:15 we get to the location of C3, look for a platform and we leave the packs of the two tents we brought tied to a rock.  With a gesture Ricardo understands that I want to celebrate this journey with a handshake.  We take some sips of Isostar and we go down to C2.  Tomorrow at noon, when I get to Base, I will have lentils and goat stew.

Ivan Vallejo Ricaurte



Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera




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