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  ANNAPURNA 2007: Ivan Vallejo Ricaurte Annapurna Base Camp


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 afternoon.

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 1.

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 later.

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?

WHAT’S NEXT

Tomorrow, Sunday, we leave to spend the night on C1.

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 after breakfast.

A hug from Base Camp in Annapurna.  Until next Tuesday.

Iván Vallejo Ricaurte

EXPEDITIONEER

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 mountain. 

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 summit.  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 4,250m.

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.

 Editor: Doris Arroba

Iván Vallejo Ricaurte EXPEDITIONEER 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

 

 
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