TOWARDS THE SUMMIT OF NANGA
PARBAT Part 1
To enter in a nylon tent of
1,80 by 1.0 m. hanging from the emptiness at 6,200 m and to live there for a
few hours is for me one of the most demanding exercises of discipline, order,
patience and will. In that tiny space we have to rest, change clothes, dry
them, make water, cook and sleep, when possible. Seen with critical eyes,
many would say that the hours spent this way are misery hours (there are
times, luckily very few, when I am tempted to agree with them), but I try hard
to believe, optimistically as always, that those hours are part of the best
lessons that I get from this job of mine of climbing mountains.
While we heat the rice with
veal stew, Fercho (Fernando González-Rubio, Colombian colleague) sings a la
Carlos Vives and I join him. We melt more snow, prepare more beverages, we
hydrate and chat. This thing of having kids and that they are an important
part in our lives is a good common topic of conversation. Wrapped along with
the flag of Ecuador, which is almost identical to Fercho's, is the card that
Kamilita made me to take to the summit.
We rest, we get quiet and in
this silence each one unrolls his own thoughts: whishes, pending debts, debts
to collect, promises to keep, letters to write, words to say, caresses to
give, apologies to give ad also the book I will soon publish.
On Monday, July 18, the
procession continues. Now everybody together, more than 20 climbers ascend
from C2 to C3, small like little ants but loaded at camels in the middle of a
desert of snow and rocks. Beautiful day, perfect snow, demanding but safe
climb and above us still 1,500 m more of mountain: climb, grab the lines for
safety, bless the luck I have, sweat a lot and think about the summit with the
Kami's card and a pebble of this place for my son Andy.
We reached C3 in three and a
half hours; the place is a luxury compared with the scarce balcony of C2.
There is enough room to walk safe, to place the tent without the anguish that
those in it will roll down the slope.
Watching the possibilities of
summit closer every time, the atmosphere in C3 is great: we laugh, we joke and
even some, without having reached the summit yet, are already thinking of
asking of a change of dates for their flights. I keep cool, just in case.
On Tuesday, July 19, the
caravan moves from the 6,700 m of C3 to the Bhazin basin at 7,250 m to locate
C4. Another picture day: intense blue sky, as if seen through a polarizer;
the Hindukush mountain range in the front, completely clear and above us the
summit, quiet, provoking.
To climb above 7,000 m with
an armoire as a backpack is very demanding, but I don't fight against that
because I am in this game knowing the rules. I think that it would be foolish
and stubborn to go against it. All these days in Base Camp, while the bad
weather lasted, I didn't lose time. I always exercised, climbed and I even
jogged 6 kilometers at 4,000 m, spending a day in the valley close to BC.
That time I used is paying off and I am happy. I always leave last, because
of the time to setup my backpack, and I am always among the first to arrive.
After a long journey from
7,000 to 7,200 m, I end up in the immense valley of the Bhazin basin close to
a trapezoid that is the final part of Nanga Parbat. When I see it I stand
very still admiring it and I start to talk with the summit which I can clearly
distinguish 1,000 m above me. I started these conversations during those days
when I went jogging by the prairie and it was just Nanga and me alone. He
knows what I want, he knows what I am looking for, he knows where I go.
With a sun that crushes us
from head to toes we arrive, sweating, at 7,250 m, to the place where we will
locate C4. After throwing my backpack to the ground I feel an enormous relief
to get rid, after three days of suffering, of such overwhelming but necessary
Tomorrow I will carry,
finally, a light backpack to the summit.
IVAN VALLEJO RICAURTE
Translated from Spanish by
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