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  Everest and K2 Summiter Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio takes on Manaslu: Time for reflection

Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio on the Summit K2

Update:  It is 4 in the afternoon and I am inside my tent in Base Camp waiting for this snowfall to pass.  It is cold, much more than I imagined, but I feel I am well prepared.

I came back yesterday from installing Camp 1, located at 5,900 m.  I am not sure that it is in the same place we it was 7 years ago because there is a lot more snow now.  The terrain over which we located Advanced Base Camp in 98 was only stones and today it is covered by more than 3 meters of snow, because the winter has just ended.

So we are waiting for avalanches that discharge the mountain. Between Advanced Base Camp and Camp 1 I passed a glacier, like a few soccer fields long on the snow, I remember that in 98 there were just cracks like a Bengali tiger, dry terrain and dark colors.  Of course this abundance of snow makes it more difficult to walk and open the trail, which is surely covered by now. 

Some days ago I heard some helicopters and I imagined with illusion that it could be the Spanish team.  However, it was not so and this has me a little worried and sad because we barely say hello with the Germans, because of the language.  They are a very organized team and they have been nice to me, but not being able to have a conversation and have effective communication has been very hard.  The Germans also installed their camp and with them we came down to let this snow time pass.  It has snowed a lot and in my free time I try to read or visit the Sherpas in the kitchen where we speak in English.

The weather and the little communication have made me wait with patience between the settlement of each camp, all this time has let me think and meditate about my strategy to attack the mountain, to read it and decipher it in order to get my goal.  I know that the mountain doesn't send signals that let us climb to the summit and that it is the mountain itself who warns or invites us to achieve our objectives.  I have also though a lot about my family, my country, about Lenin, with whom I came in 98 and who I feel close now.

The wait has helped me in my acclimatization process and I see the results of my training in Body Tech when I read my cardiac rhythm in my AXN700 watch.  I felt strong and agile when I got to Camp 1 where I left my tent and a few stuff.  I guess I'll be in Camp 2, at 6,800 m in about 4 days.

I feel proud to be here and I hope that's the way many of my friends, family and fellow citizens feel. Fernando

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Previous Update is below

Three years without visiting Katmandu

When I got to El Dorado airport I had to unpack my luggage of more than 35 Kg to show everything I was carrying and try to keep the police officers from opening the hydrating beverage packages which any way are useless today.  I started my trip with a big surprise, the base of Air France in Bogotá sent me to first class and let me take all the excess baggage which was 60 Kg, which I thank with all my heart because of the savings and comfort, because it will be 3 days of traveling.

In Paris I stayed one night in a hotel close to the airport and very early in the morning I left to New Delhi, the capital of India.  The trip was as comfortable, really it wasn't as bad because it took 18 hours by airplane.  I arrived to New Delhi and I did not have a visa to enter the country so I had to wait 13 hours in the international exit port, waiting for the connection to Nepal via Indian Airlines.  I left at 11:30 am Nepal time.  2 hours more and finally I was in Katmandu, a familiar place for me, it was quick and in minutes I was in the hotel.

I was in that very same hotel a few years ago, the people in Nepal is very friendly and they quickly remembered me from the other expeditions.  They greeted me with a warm "Namaste sr", which means: the best of me greets the best of you.

After asking about my teammates, I went to my room to rest,  it is 11 hours of difference with Colombia and it takes a lot of time to stabilize.  While everybody sleeps I look for something to do.  While I adapt to the time zone I go ahead with the expedition preps.

On the next day, my Sirdar came to help me with the final preparations (Sirdar is the name given to the local people who are in charge of organizing everything related with the expedition).  His name is Ang Nuru Sherpa, a man raised on the mountains who dedicates to organize expeditions.  I began shopping for the little details left and in the afternoon sleep made me tumble because of the time change.  I went to rest.  Early in the morning I was already awake and when the sun rose I went jogging to the Temple of the Monkeys, which I visited with my teammates when we climbed Everest.  Nothing has changed, a little more commerce and pollution, although the presence of the army in the streets impressed me, because I never saw a policeman in this city, it looks like it's because of the Maoists who spread fear in this country.

Nepal has its roads closes right now, the trekking tourism has not been able to leave and just the expeditions that travel by helicopter are still here with the tourists who stay in the city, the rest of the economy is decaying in the city because of these inconveniences.

The food varies, because of the tourism there's everything, Thai, Korean, American, but the local food is based in lentils called Dalbad, rice, a lot of spices, curry and powders of every color.  I am OK, already adapted to the change of time zone and my appetite has come back, I hope to gain a few kilos more.

I leave in a flight the 8th of the month because the helicopters are crowded, there are many expeditioneers with sponsors and compromises to meet but patience is what is needed.

It's been 3 years without visiting Katmandu, but coming back is very satisfactory for me, to meet old remembrances full of joy and sadness because in 1998, in my attempt to climb Mount Manaslu, I lost my great friend Lenin Granados in an avalanche, the same avalanche from which I was saved from death.  I know Lenin will be present with his aura guiding my way.

The German group with whom I will share the permit to climb the mountain and the infrastructure came days later.  Today we are waiting for confirmation of the flight by helicopter to be soon on the mountain.  Everything is ready although I have a little problem with the communication equipment that I hope to solve in these days before leaving to the mountain.

Katmandu is a city full of tourism, adventure, handcrafts with no equal, with the incredible warmness of their people.  It is full of temples where Buddhism and Hinduism are the main protagonists.  Women walk covered by their veils, because of respect for their body, and they decorate the colorful street that fill my enthusiasm in this trip.

I think and hope that the respect and neatness of my strategy in the ascent will open me the gates to that coveted summit full of mysteries and fear for me.  The Manaslu.  The mountain of the Spirits waits for me, the trip by helicopter will leave me in Sama Gom, a Sherpa town, very little, stuck in time, a very primitive town in their customs and way of life.

The summit date is planed from May 1 and on, the weather is stable but you can only check that on the mountain and the mountain has to be respected.

The mountains decide and nature is superior to us, what we can do is to prepare and be ready with an strategy and desire to make dreams come true.

Fernando, a Colombian on the summit of the world.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

    Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio K2 Summiter Q&A March 2005 A must read

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