On the way to the summit (2)
HOMAGE TO RAMIRO NAVARRETE
Ramiro Navarrete was one of
the best mountain climbers there has been in the history of Ecuador.
His return to Ecuador after a
long season climbing the Alps, while he was finishing his doctorate in
philosophy (and in that order of importance) between Navarra and England,
meant a great injection of vitality for our sport, but above all it showed us
a different way to view and to face the challenges on the Andes.
His contribution served to
open new ways in Ecuador, to make us see that organizing an expedition to the
Andes in Colombia, Peru or Bolivia was not so complicated as we thought; I
myself took a bus to Alpamayo and Artesonraju, supported unconditionally by
Ramiro. He made exceptional climbs in Alpamayo, in Santa Cruz, Huascarán in
Peru and Illampu, in Bolivia. Then he turned his gaze to the highest
mountains of the world in the Himalayas. His was the idea of being the first
Ecuadorian to climb Everest. With his always methodic ways, he prepared a
plan to let him make sure to reach the summit of the highest mountain of the
In 1986 he climbed Communist
peak with more than seven thousand meters of altitude; then he chose Shisha
Pangma as his first eight thousand and reached its summit with no one else
than one of the most brilliant stars we have had in Himalayan mountain
climbing: Jerzy Kucukza. To finish his preparation he chose Annapurna as the
last step before facing Everest. On October 17, 1988, he reached the summit
of the Goddess of Abundance by a long and complicated way through the south
wall; on the next day, October 18, while he was climbing down from the last
camp to BC, the weather was not good and visibility was almost null. This
prevented him from seeing a cornice that was treachery under his feet; his
climbing teammate Francisco Espinosa only heard the crack and the following
thunder of the enormous piece of ice breaking. Ramiro Navarrete slipped over
that infinite and abrupt slope of the south face of Annapurna. He remained in
that mountain forever.
I had the enormous luck of
being one of his close friends, or better, I had the luck of having him as one
of my teachers: he taught me photography, he pushed me into the first
expeditions out of the country, but above all he taught me to see a wide and
gigantic horizon that was beyond Ecuador.
It hurt a lot when Ramiro
left, with his absence I lost my great friend and my great teacher. Now that
I was going to Annapurna, the mountain where he is, it was my special occasion
to greet him, to talk to him; to ask him that, if possible he would go with me
on this ascent.
At the bottom of Annapurna in
its west face, a modest memorial has been built to remember the countless
mountain climbers that have lost their lives in that mountain, a memory for
Ramiro was missing in that place.
From Ecuador I took a modest
homage to Annapurna, a plate to deposit there the gratitude and love of
several friends who shared with him part of our march over the mountains. On
May 20, on the way to the summit of Annapurna I raised this memorial, with
Fernando; we had a prayer, I talked with Ramiro and we place his plate. When
I took my backpack again I knew he would go to the summit with me.
Caption: At the memorial, at the bottom of Annapurna with the plate I left as
a memory of love from his friends.
Translated from Spanish by
Earlier: ON THE
ROAD AGAIN, ON THE WAY TO KARAKORUM
June 18, 2007
friends of Ecuador and the world.
greetings from Islamabad, now on the way to Broad Peak, the twelfth highest
mountain in the world with 8,047m on the Karakorum mountain system. I
am here as a member of the Al Filo de lo Imposible expedition for Televisión
Española. For me it has been glad to get an invitation
again from this team, famous because of their adventures and the quality film
work which they have done for more than twenty years. As members of the
expedition we are, except for Fercho, the same as in the Annapurna expedition:
Edurne Pasaban, Asier Izaguirre, Ferran Latorre and yours truly. We will meet
with four more members at Broad Peak’s BC to sum eight in total in the group.
I will let you know the names of the new teammates later.
as promised, I start sending you the chronicles I have written regarding our
ascent to the summit of Annapurna last May 24. There will be several
chronicles thought and written for you my friends and ascent partners. One of
the ways I can thank for your support and company is precisely sharing with
you these expedition chronicles.
On the way
to the summit (1)
WE HAD DONE
May 11, Andrew, Fernando and I had reached 6,400m, the location of Camp 3,
fixing almost a thousand meters of rope through a precious trail through ice
walls, snow blankets and long and steep slopes, always having behind us a
falling yard which seemed to want to swallow us at the least error. The charm
of this trail was that from time to time, for very short moments, we had the
pleasure of defying gravity.
Back at BC
we only had to wait for a window of good weather. We had to have at least
four days in a row of good weather, where especially the last two had to be
perfect because they were going to be used to reach the summit and come back
I read the
book Letters to Albert Einstein at BC. This book, besides giving a brief
biography of one of the greatest geniuses humanity has had, makes reference to
numerous letters from children from all over the world who with their simple
ways and innocence make the most divers questions to Dr. Einstein, and
certifies the stature of such a human being reflected in the extraordinary
simple way with which he talks to children. Reading it was useful for me to
make a brief and flat review of the theory of relativity, which was good while
brings anguish and normally comes with a time that is always relative because
it can be enormous or small, infinite or precise. Everything depends…
expecting mother that waits for the ninth month.
that grows in the mother’s womb and although it waits, it doesn’t know
anything about the wait.
that waits for the kiss and love of a quarter of an hour.
that waits for the sentence.
the eyes waiting for the first kiss.
for your turn to visit the dentist because the judgment tooth has no room.
Forty five thousand fans
waiting for the match to end.
Someone waiting for the
grades of the final exam.
Ten mountain climbers waiting
for four days of good weather.
wait standing up, sitting down, calm, with despair, with euphoria, crying,
talking or in silence. That’s how the wait is like. It is like death, we all
get squished by it.
wait has a godfather or executioner:
mother, the passing of time
baby, just its mother
lover, his lover
inmate, the sentence
kiss, the lips
patient, the anesthesia
fans, the referee
student, the teacher
us… the weather forecast from Vitor Baia.
is from Portugal, he lives in La Guarda, on the north of Lisbon.
Kangchenjunga, with the company of Joao Garcia, I went to meet him and to
thank him for the immense help he gave us with sending the weather forecast
which was key to reach the summit of Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain
of the world. Vitor has deadly passion for parapente, he started to fly with
it and now he is the instructor of his own school, that has taken him to
understand the readings of winds, of those winds which let him fly and let me
sits in from of his computer to calculate the meteo, he lives his special
everyday ceremony, a kind of reading of the oracle which makes him know if it
is feasible or not, if there is a flight or not; in sum, it means if you live
In from of
the screen of his computer Vitor is different, he transforms, because for him
getting the meteo is not just interpreting the graphics and the colors; is a
whole thing, a whole that makes him live and vibrate, which makes him feel
like a kind of Merlin of the winds, the sun, the clouds and the humidity.
he asked me for a place and I said Kangchenjunga, just like that. He found
the latitude and longitude and came up with a bunch of maps, curves, colors
and bars. In that moment he entered a trance, possessed by the spirits of the
wind, the water and the mountains. That, which for me was and unexplainable
thing, for him was snow, wind, sun, clouds, humidity. With the index he made
curves on the computer screen, as if commanding the path of the wind. The
Vitor Baia of that moment, possessed by the gods of the meteo was full of
light, covered by that glitter of the power to predict.
night, after his wife and his two daughters go to sleep he slips out to read
the oracle and the deck of magic cards with which he plays with the designs of
the sun, the clouds and the wind.
Baia, dear friend, has all our trust and confidence in such delicate topic of
the weather predictions.
THE LAST FORECAST
Literally: days 22, 23 and
24. Good weather. Day 24 sun, wind west 40 – 50 km on the
summit. Days 25, 26 and 27 still with good weather but with stronger winds.
very clear, the week from the 22 to the 26 of May was the window of good time
we were waiting, we would have clear skies although we were worried of the
wind speed, because normally the bearable limit for any human being is between
30 and 40 kilometers per hour. The fifty worried me a lot, and I suppose
On May 20
we left from BC, Edurne, Asier, Fernando, the two Sherpas and I from our
group, Al Filo de lo Imposible; Andrew and Sergev from the other expedition.
A day later Iñaki Ochoa and Horia would leave and they would reach us at Camp
Editor: Doris Arroba
Iván Vallejo Ricaurte
from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
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