ANNAPURNA EXPEDITION REPORT: Annapurna Base Camp,
Dear friends of Ecuador and the world.
Today, Saturday, April 14, I write this report to
keep you up to date with out expedition.
THURSDAY, APRIL 12
A little after nine in the morning we started the
celebration of our Puja, the Buddhist ceremony where we ask, in this case,
Annapurna, the Goddess of abundance, that she accepts us in her kingdom and
lets us get to its highest point. The ceremony was simple around an altar that
had been prepared the day before by Santa, the expedition cook, Ringi, his aid
and the two Sherpas that come with us: Lakpa and Nurbu.
Since this place doesn’t have a monk or a Buddhist
novice, there were no proper psalmodies or mantras for this celebration, which
was limited to the blessing of the food and the materials we will use while
climbing, then the personal prayers that were followed by the act of throwing
raw rice grains to the air, asking for benevolence to the Goddess Annapurna.
We concluded the ceremony with a toast, mutually wishing ourselves good luck.
After the Puja we took very light backpacks and we went out to recognize the
road that enters the north glacier of Annapurna.
We were back at BC at three thirty in the
FRIDAY, APRIL 13
Day was used to recognize the road that goes from
the beginning of the north glacier to the location of Camp 1.
At nine in the afternoon, Edurne, Asier, Fercho,
Lakpa, Sete and I left BC, as the climbing team, and we had the company of
Ferrán Latorre (camera) and Ringi (his aid) as the filming team for the Al
Filo de lo Imposible show for Televisión Española. Ferrán made plans up to
the entrance to the glacier and from there we continued with the job of
locating the route of access to where our Camp 1 will be.
To avoid an ice corridor, which looked more
logical and fast to get on top of the glacier, we ascended by a wide rock
spur, so we left that other way that looks more to be a natural bed for any
avalanche that comes from the top part of the icefall.
Asier and I patiently fixed a line on the more
difficult parts of the rock, Edurne and Fercho came behind fixing the safety
pins and correct the distance of rope that we have installed.
After the delicate part of the rocky spur, there
are some snowy parts with a good slope that present no complication, we climb
there carrying on our backs all the equipment we will leave in the location of
C1: tents, ropes, stoves, gas, etc.
At 13h56 I finish one of the pronounced slopes of
snow that end to a rocky flat, from there I can finally see the North Face of
Annapurna with all its magnitude and beauty. I freeze, leaning on my two ski
canes, with my head high, looking at the route we will follow to the summit.
Later we all gather, we hug and we celebrate how well the journey went.
Between Sherpas and westerners we share the food we have brought here: pop
corn, oranges, bread, cookies, chocolates. We leave all the material we have
carried in a safe place, which will be used on the next trip to install Camp
The altimeter reads 5,080m and I think of how low
we are, we still have three thousand meters to get to the summit.
We are back to BC at four thirty in the afternoon.
SATURDAY, APRIL 14
Day of rest, to take a shower, have abundant
breakfast and a long talk over the table afterwards. Around noon Ferrán
decides to teach Asier and me how to play golf, with a swing and everything.
I must confess that I enjoyed the first class a lot: how to hold the stick,
how to move the wrist, how to let go with the inertia of the movement and to
always remember that the philosophy of golf is to approach first and score
I finish my report sharing the comment that Ferrán,
my golf instructor in Annapurna, has made with relation to my first class:
There a future for me.
Not bad, ha?
Tomorrow, Sunday, we leave to spend the night on
We will fix a line on Monday and we will search
for an access route to where our Camp 2 will be, we will return to C1 again to
sleep a night at that altitude. We will go down to rest in BC on Tuesday
A hug from Base Camp in Annapurna. Until next
Iván Vallejo Ricaurte
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
Earlier: Dear friends of Ecuador and the World:
A warm hug from our Base Camp, at the foot of
Annapurna, at 4,250m of altitude.
Today, Tuesday, we have flown by helicopter
directly from Katmandu to this place. In just an hour we have abbreviated the
seven days of approach trek that, even if it is one of the most beautiful
trails of the Himalayas, the main objective is to reach, God willing, the
summit of Annapurna, so we have left it for the return. On the personal side,
whenever possible, I prefer the approach trek to a chopper flight and to get
to the foot of the mountain as soon as possible to start with the objective.
If a sports analogy can be made, an approach trek would be like going by foot
to the stadium track where the competition would take place; or as if the
national soccer team would march from the concentration place to the game
field. I don’t want to say that it is bad to walk. No, absolutely, but the
main objective is competition, the soccer match, or in our case, climbing the
The flight was beautiful. Traveling through Nepal
and admire it from the air is always a bliss of beauty and grandiosity. Just
after takeoff from Katmandu I saw the shadow of the helicopter that licks,
jumps and caresses this tapestry of terraces and the green of the rice fields
that are on both sides of the Bagmati River; then, the wave of deep canyons,
tight one after another with abundant curls of pines and rhododendrons; then,
above all, the great Himalayas. The helicopter, facing those immense walls of
granite and ice, is just a pinhead. Through the window, one by one we all get
surprised by this architecture; the Machapuchare shows up, 7,000m of altitude,
perfectly sculpted in rock, seeming like an immense tail of a fish which is
precisely what Machapuchare means. Macha: fish, Puchare: tail. On these
abrupt walls the snow of the glaciers hangs precariously and from there a lot
of waterfalls commit suicide by dropping to the void. Death can also wait.
With a new twist of the immense bladed bug, which
carries on the air around a thousand kilos of weight, we enter the west wall
of Annapurna, a huge and enormous wall, almost five thousand meters of
altitude difference from the foot of the slope at 3,600 m, up to 8,091m on the
What a beautiful mountain. What a big mountain. Then we cross a very narrow gorge that, as a kind of gate, takes us
to a clear of rocks and snow where the chopper smoothly lands. We land at
In the middle of the roar of the turbines and the
wind whirls we unload the packages one by one, the wind hits us on the face
and the cold bites our hands. The helicopter belly is empty now, Yostakov,
the pilot, lifts his thumb and flies again on the air.
We have reached the foot of Annapurna.
Iván Vallejo Ricaurte EXPEDITIONEER
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
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