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  Carlos Pauner 2008: The Summit attempt in on the way on Lhotse


Lhotse, Saturday May 17, 2008

SUMMIT ATTACK 

Tomorrow, Carlos Pauner and Javier Perez will leave base camp to make their first and only summit attack to the summit of Lhotse.  They are in good spirits, and the weather forecasts predict a window of good weather for the next days.  Their plan is to climb tomorrow to camp II directly where they will spend the night.  On Monday morning they will leave to camp III, they will sleep there and by Tuesday morning they will climb to camp IV.  If everything goes as planned, and the weather holds, they will try to reach the summit of Lhotse on Wednesday 21.  We will keep you informed.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Lhotse, Thursday May 15, 2008

FROM LHOTSE BASE CAMP

We have arrived to Lhotse Base Camp just a few minutes ago, which is common to Everest, at 5,400 m of altitude.  We left Katmandu early yesterday, to catch a flight to Lukla, the entrance gate to the Khumbu valley.  From this place, a small helicopter took us to lobuche, at 4,900 m of altitude, where we spent the whole day yesterday.  Despite having the previous acclimatization, the sudden change of going from 1,000 to 5,000 meters in some minutes has been noted by our bodies a lot.  Suddenly our bodies have just half the oxygen to live.  Even now that they can do it, the process is slow and we have not felt with much energy these past hours.  This morning we have walked three hours to get here to base camp.  It is impressive, the amount of people here.  I have seen it a lot of times before, but it is impressive anyway how a small city of canvas extends everywhere.  You can look at tents everywhere you look.  The absolute chaos and even the aspect is of a crowded place between one camp and the others.  We can't complain.  We sent our staff in advance and now everything is installed here and in good conditions.  The individual tents, the mess tent, the kitchen tent, etc.  Very close to us is the military expedition of the Jaca High Mountain School.  They greeted us very warmly and the truth is that we are glad that everything is going along well so far.  Now, we have to get used again to this situation in the life of base camp.  After last week in Katmandu, our bodies and mind got used to that situation.  The body tried to heal the important problem of having to ascend above that mark of eight thousand meters.  Now we have to tell our bodies that they have to charge again, that the body has to prepare again to bear that extreme altitude.  It won't be easy.  Maybe that is what worries us most in the expedition.  We have ripped throats, our lungs are not breathing very well and the sings of extreme fatigue of the eight thousand meters are still present.  We are going to suffer as dogs, but I think that it is worth the try.  If after a few days of rest the weather gives us a chance, we will go up, little by little, without looking back.  We will take take our attempt to the most and with the results we get, we will go down, satisfied with success, or at least satisfied of having been able to fight again in the high marks after all that has happened.  For the moment we are fine, established in our new base, with alert senses, happy that all this difficult plan made during the spring is working perfectly fine so far and trusting that Lhotse will give us a chance to jump again on the arena of this white Coliseum of the Himalayas.

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Katmandu, Sunday May 11, 2008  

TIME PASSES BY, SLOWLY 

Without a doubt, time has another dimension in Katmandu, different from what it is like in our normal life.  Some days are long, eternal, exhausting.  You have to look for entertainment to ease the situation, although the truth is that we don't find any.  At the beginning, the change between base camp to the city made us float in the air.  The luxury and comfort of our temporal urban life, made us forget the troubles in the altitude.  We even could heal some minor aches we were dragging which are impossible to heal in the altitude.  We have had very nice days with all our Spanish fellow climbers in Katmandu.  We talked, remembering special moments of the expedition or we would just gather to feel the company of the group.  Now they have left to go home and Javier and I have stayed.  We are not so bad, of course, but the feeling of see our friends go home has been kind of nostalgic.  But well, it is just a feeling and we need to look ahead.  We have, believe it or not, a whole expedition ahead.  Two more days in this chaotic city and we will leave to the altitude kingdom again.  Tomorrow we will take care of permits and we will do the last shopping.  We have already sent our light load (we are going to take just 4 barrels to base camp) by land, trusting to find them on the 14th at base camp.  We will meet a lot of friends there, from other expeditions and they will surely update us on how things are over there.  Our tactic is very very simple.  Just one attack, just one chance, but we are going to wait for the good one.  We are not in a rush, we are acclimatized and we just want to find that window of good weather, like in Dhaula to get to the highest point in Lhotse.  With the experience of other seasons, I hope this chance will come between the 20 and 27 of this month.  They will be 5 very intense days of mountain, but if we compare with those of a normal expedition, they will be few.  We did acclimatize in Dhaula.  Our body is adapted to altitude.  I have been to 8,167 m and my body has had to modify to keep me alive in that inhuman mark.  So, after these days of recovery in Katmandu, acclimatization doesn't have to be a problem and it has to let us climb step by step without looking back, until the summit.  As always, the conditions on the mountain will mark the pace, but sincerely, we are very motivated and with a lot of will to change these days of tedium and inactivity, for days of summits, sun and Himalayas.  Our campaign continues and soon, very soon, we will be face to face with our great objective: Lhotse 

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: Dhaulagiri, TURNING THE PAGE IN KATMANDU

Resting, re-hydrating, eating good, remembering certain things and forgetting others.  In definitive, turning the page of the expedition to Dhaulagiri.  That is how it should be.  We have a new expedition about to start and we have to leave the past one behind.  However, it is impossible to forget certain moments.  It has been a good expedition.  Fast in time, a month at base camp, efficient in its contents, first Aragon ascent to the summit, first female from Aragon, homage to our late friends and above all, there was a good environment of friendship and common work.  There were also difficult moments.  The disappearance of our friend Rafa, the debacle of the Argentineans, the late arrival of Marta to the summit followed by enormous tension during the whole night until her arrival to camp 3, in the early morning.  As in other occasions, it was a mix of good and bad, but if I had to grade it, without a doubt, it would be good.

The helicopter, again, brought us to Katmandu.  We have spent 3 days as in a dream, recovering the wounded senses and turning back to life little by little.  However, for Perez and for me, this is just going to be a parenthesis in this long Nepalese campaign.  In 4 days we will leave to our new objective, to Lhotse, of 8,501 m of altitude.  It is the 4th highest mountain in the world, a great giant, a titan in the Himalayas.  We have taken that decision after meditating very very well.   Our initial objective was, as you know, Everest.  However, it was not a normal year for this mountain.  The Chinese government, driven by the craziness of taking the Olympic torch to the summit, forced Nepal to close the mountain until May 11.  this was at the beginning, because if after their dates they were delayed, they would have made anything to keep the mountain at their mercy.  The Nepalese government, with a weak character, lowered its head and even let the Chinese army to its territory, to oversee the integrity of the measure.  Under these conditions, our decision was firm.  We were not going to gamble more than 70,000 dollars on the climbing permit to the wishes of the short and bossy guys of the other side of the Himalayas.  Thus, we centered on Dhaula and with that blessing, we decidedly go to another Nepalese giant.  We are going to attempt climbing the 8,500 m. of Lhotse.  It is not going to be easy.  Elevate, in my case, up to this tremendous mark, after the great effort we did in Dhaula, is going to mean a total effort, a bullet proof concentration and a determination similar to that of our beloved Palafox.  Luckily I have all this in my hands and I only wait that the circumstances of the mountain are good, that Lhotse respects me as a great adversary and that I can add, in a few days, my ninth eight thousand.  Then, the moment to go back home will come, after almost three months of crusade.  I long to see my loved ones, to hug them and to kiss them.  I want to tell them they don't have to wait anymore, that they don't have to suffer more anguish.  But I still can not do it.  The moment has not come yet.  There are still tugs of war.  I am not comfortable with just Dhaula.  I am thirsty of more mountain, of more eight-thousands and I go, with a firm step, to calm my thirst on Lhotse.

We will say goodbye to Marta tomorrow who goes back to Spain to heal her injuries.  Not important, but they have forced her out of this hard and long adventure.  We will do all the paperwork day after tomorrow and on the 13th we will fly again over the valleys of Nepal, to locate at the 5,400 m of our base camp.  There will only be one attempt, one opportunity and all will be solves in a brief space of time.  We are going for it, for the double play, for all of it.

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: THE SUMMIT OF DHAULAGIRI FOR ARAGON 

That's right.  All our dreams have become true.  On May 1, at 14:00 I stepped on the summit of this beautiful mountain of Nepal.  The wind and the cold were intense, but my feelings were sizzling.  I remembered my friends Garces, Sagaste, Ricardo.  I could not stop feeling that this summit was for them, for all those good climbers who left their lives on this mountain.  I could feel their presence in the middle of the storm.  From up here, elevated at 8,167 m., I was not alone.  I was with all of them and suddenly, as we used to do long ago, we met, although this time in a far away place.  Surrounded by them, I started to descend to camp 3, where I arrived at 6 in the afternoon.  A very hard journey, full of emotions.  From the early morning, the mountain showed us its most difficult face.  At 3 in the morning we started the long way to the summit.  The wind was intense, the temperature was 30 degrees Celsius below zero and the doubts were constant along the ascent.  The terrain was more complicated each time.  We had to cross all these terrible slopes of Dhaula.  There was no room for error.  One error and a fall of more than 1,000 meters was for sure.  A lot of concentration, a lot of effort.  We could see the end of the ascent around 12 in the morning.  This rocky pinnacle, which marks the end of the mountain, looked down at us, defiant.  Ivan, Gerlinde, Ferran, David and Fercho arrived to the summit around 1.  I could see them over this rocky tip that raised against the sky.  The weather was changing, but my will was firm.  I could see Marta too, somewhere below, but doing a terrible effort to reach the summit.  The weather was changing and the summit began to get covered and a strong wind began to blow.  It didn't matter, nothing could stop me.  Finally everything was under my feet.  Alex Chicon arrived next to me and we could hug and share this wonderful moment.  My eighth eight-thousand and the first time a man from Aragon reached this damn summit.  Some minutes in this strange place and then go running to camp 3.  I crossed with Marta around 3 in the afternoon.  She was still one hour away from finishing her ascent, more or less.  She was very very excited.  I remembered her it was late, that her rhythm was a little slow, but her illusion to become the first woman from Aragon to crown an eight-thousand was enormous.  I told her to try it, but if she saw a change in the weather, she shouldn't doubt, she must turn around.  I waited at 8,000 m and could watch how this brave woman reached the summit.  The weather gave a truce and she could make it to this magnificent point.  Bravo for her.  Once in camp 3, I waited for her return, melting snow and keeping in contact with Perez in base camp.  Around 2 in the night Perez told me he saw lights coming down to my position.  Long wait. Lots of nerves.  Luckily the night was good for them and around 2 in the morning Marta arrived to camp 3. Exhausted but happy of being the first woman from Aragon with a summit of an eight-thousand.  She made a big bet and it came out ok.  This time, luck was good for the guys from Aragon.  We started to descend on the next day, reaching base camp at dusk.  Perez came out to meet us.  We hugged and we could enjoy all together this so especial and intimate moment.  We were all safe, happy, with a little injury in the fingers that will have to be evaluated in the next days.  Unluckily for us the mountain had charged its price.  It is always like this and a life has been taken away forever.  I have never trusted this mountain.  It is dangerous and harsh, but for us that is all history.  Now is the time to rest, to leave this place and to think about the near future.  Satisfaction for the teamwork that was carried out very well.  Our most sincere thanks to those who have supported us and who have helped us reach to the highest point, to the summit of Dhaulagiri. 

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: Dhaulagiri, Thursday, May 1, 2008

SUMMIT SUMMIT SUMMIT!!

 

12:00 p. m.

 

This morning at 10:15 am Spain time, 2:00 Nepal time, Carlos Pauner has made it to the summit of Dhaulagiri.  Marta Alejandre stepped on the summit one and a half hour later.  When Carlos was on the summit, the weather started to change to bad, with a storm and even lightning.  He went down quickly to a more protected zone at 7,900 meters, where he is now.  He is waiting for Marta to join him to descend together to camp III.  The storm had passed and now the weather is good.  Marta and Carlos left last night, finally around 3 am, after having a very bad night and without being able to sleep.  It was a hard and complicated ascent of more than eleven hours.  They will spend this night at camp III, because it is four in the afternoon there, and they are very tired.  Early tomorrow they will start their descent to base camp.  Congratulations to Carlos for his eighth eight-thousand and to Marta, the first woman from Aragon who achieves a mountain of more than eight-thousand meters of altitude!  Now we hope they go down without problems and that they would contact us soon from base camp.

 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dhaulagiri, Wednesday, April 30, 2008

 

 

CAMP III AT 7,400 METERS

 

At 14 hours, Spain time, 6 in the afternoon Nepal time, Carlos called.  He and Marta are in camp III at 7,400 meters.  They were exhausted, they had several problems and had difficulty getting there and organize themselves.  The weather is cold and with a blizzard.  Now they were going to rehydrate and to try to rest a little, whatever they can, because they finally had to share a little tent for three people.  They plan to leave at 2 in the morning for the summit.  When we have more information we will let you know.  We hope they get all our support and our best wishes.

 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

 

Dhaulagiri, Tuesday, April 29, 2008

 

 

IN CAMP II

 

The three mountain climbers from Aragon left yesterday, Monday, from base camp.  Javier felt sick climbing to camp I and had to take the hard decision of going back to base camp, where he is now.  Marta and Carlos slept in Camp I, and left to camp II very early this morning.  They are already there, with the other expeditions at 6,800 meters.  It is very cold and the wind is strong.  They found the camp in bad conditions, they could not see the tents, they were covered with snow.  They had to work hard to put the tent in good conditions again.  They rest now and tomorrow, if everything goes well, they will climb to camp III.  Let's hope the weather is good and lets them progress on this long and hard path to the summit of this mountain of 8,167 meters.  We will keep you posted.

 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

 

Dhaulagiri, Monday, April 28, 2008

 

 

BREAKING NEWS:  LEAVING FOR THE SUMMIT

 

Yesterday, Sunday in the afternoon, the different expeditions in Dhaulagiri Base Camp compared their weather forecasts.  All matched, a strong front would come on May 2 during the afternoon and will last ten days.

 

So, the three mountain climbers from Aragon, Marta, Javier and Carlos, along with the other climbers there, decided to change their plans.  They have left this very same morning to the summit of Dhaulagiri.  They will get to camp I today, tomorrow, Tuesday, to camp II and to camp III on Wednesday, and hope to reach the summit on Thursday morning, May 1st.  We will keep you informed about their progress, wishing them the best.

 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

 

 

two new updates below

Dhaulagiri, Sunday April 20, 2008
  
BACK TO BASE CAMP
 
Marta, Javier and Carlos have gone back to base camp today, Sunday, at 14 hours Nepal time.  They are very tired, after having spent four days in high altitudes, but satisfied for the important progress they made with their acclimatization.  Yesterday, Saturday, the left from Camp I to Camp II, where they have arrived the day before and where they had left materials.  This camp II is located exactly at 6,800 meters of altitude.  They slept there, and this morning they planed to fix a line to camp III.  Ivan and Fercho started to do it, both of them from the Al Filo expedition, and they fixed some 200 meters of rope, but because of the very strong wind all the climbers that were in camp II came back to base.  Carlos will tell us tomorrow in detail about how these four days in the high altitude were.
 
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
Dhaulagiri, Friday, April 18, 2008

AT 6700 METERS 

Yesterday, Thursday morning, Marta Javier and Carlos left base camp with everything they need to spend three nights in high altitude.  They arrived to camp I, very tired, because there was very deep snow and they opened the trail along the way.  They spent the night there.  Today, Friday by the morning, they have left to camp II.  The weather has not been good.  It was very cold, with a blizzard and very little visibility.  They decided to locate camp II some 300 meters above where it is usually located, because they saw it was more secure there (the usual camp 2 is known by its risks of avalanches).  So they climbed to 6,700 meters and they started to mount the camp there, under a serac.  But the strong blizzard has made them decide to leave a depot there (the tents and other materials) and they went down to sleep in camp I.  Tomorrow, Saturday, they will climb again to camp II at 6,700 meters, with the intention of sleeping there if the weather lets them.  They plan to go down back to base camp on Sunday morning, where they will have a few days to recover and a well deserved rest.

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: Dhaulagiri, Wednesday April 16, 2008

A BIG OPPORTUNITY

 

We are in our base camp, resting quietly and the weather is very good.  It doesn't snow and the sun shines.  The fallen snow has been purged from the mountain and the conditions look good.  Also, the different weather forecasts of the different expeditions, who are around here, match and it looks like there are some days of good weather coming.  It is the big opportunity, that window that will let us work on the mountain during 3 or 4 days to open the gate to hope.

 

After the meeting we had yesterday with all the groups, we decided to work together, Spaniards (most of us), Czechs, Polish, and the others, to open the gate to Dhaulagiri.  This means, be able to get all the necessary rope to camp 2 and fix it between camp 2 and camp 3 at almost 7,200 m of altitude.  Each group, after camp 2 is installed and the rope is fixed above 7,000m, has the opportunity to go to the summit in a very close future.

So our team will climb on Thursday to camp 1, which was installed a few days ago.  We will sleep there and then we will go to camp 2, to install it and to sleep.  On the next day we will have to work on the route again and then go back to sleep in camp 2.  at down, back to the comfort of our little home at base camp.  A lot of work, but necessary work on the mountain.  If everything goes well, we would have opened the route and we will be in a very different phase.  We will be thinking about the first attacks to the summit.  Almost nothing.

 

Today we have to prepare everything, so that nothing is missing up there.  Tents, gas, food, rope, nails, etc., etc.  A lot of equipment, but everything will be necessary up there.  We also have to prepare our minds.  After these days of calm, days of a lot of work are coming, of a lot of effort and of course, a lot of risk.  No doubt, personally it won't be easy for me to sleep in the same place where Ricardo, Garcés and Santiago lay.  My mind can not forget the big moments we lived, specially with Ricardo.  I shared expeditions with him, moments of friendship, dreams, illusions and part of my life went with him forever.  No, it won't be easy to be there.  But I will be.  It will be a homage for them all, to these brave warriors that gave their lives chasing a dream.  What an example for those of us left.  How much limitless braveness, to fight until the end, without doubts, no ambiguities or foolishness.  I am proud of having met you, of having learned from you, of being able to share part of my life with so special people.  Thanks brothers.  All my effort in these days will be dedicated to your glorious memory.  I love you and you are a part of me.  You are a part of the Himalayas forever.  This one is for you and your families.

 

Carlos Pauner

 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dhaularigi, Sunday April 13, 2008 

NEW YEAR IN NEPAL 

Today we celebrate New Year in Nepal.  We start 2,065 with good wishes and good vibes.  Also Nepal is having constitutional elections, a new hit that will mark the future of this small country full of mountains.  For us these are days of calm, of rest, after having climbed to the 5,900 m mark and having installed camp 1, the first high altitude camp out of the 3 we need to climb to the summit of this giant.  In some 6 and a half hours we crossed under the little Eiger, a vertical wall that looms over base camp, to then cross a glacier lake up to a huge Col that is part of the beginning of the NE ridge of Dhaulagiri.  We arrived with good weather, mounted the tents and started with the job of melting snow to get water.  As the night fell, the snow came and on the next day a white blanket covered everything.  After spending the night in that place we started to descent to base camp, to rest and to let the body recover from the effort we made.  So far, everything is going as planned.  On the next leg we will have to mount camp 2 at around 6,500m, but that will be in a few days.

Today the sun is like new over our base camp and we have cooked good food.  We brought two good pieces of cod and our friend Asier, member of another expedition, has instructed our cook in the arts of cooking this delicacy.  The result couldn't be better and we have tasted a good pil pil cod which was a gift to our mouths.  Our spirit can not be higher and we are fine, with our work up to date and with energy to strike hard on the mountain.

Despite the altitude and the cold, the computers and cameras are working perfectly.  We use the central hours of the day, the hour with more heat to work with them and to send the chronicles and pictures of our doings, and the videos for Aragon television.  It is a hard job, but it is nice to be able to share you all these landscapes, so far from our home like wild things because of their forms.  We spoke with expeditioneers from other countries about our mountains, about our customs and we can't help showing some melancholy after these three weeks we have been away from our home.  Little by little time passes by and we get used to be here, to live among the ice and stones, listening to avalanches during the night or feeling good with the first sunshine in a frosty morning.  Like animals of habits that we are, we need to keep going up, to keep dreaming with the far summit of our mountain.

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dhaulagiri, Thursday, April 10, 2008 

FIRST APPROACHES 

We finally went into the mountain.  After all this preparation time, approaches and problems, we mounted these first snowy slopes of Dhaulagiri.  The idea was very simple, to start to move a little and to take some load to make an intermediate depot between base camp and camp 1.  We took advantage that the weather was good and we left base camp around 7 thirty.  The first steps are always hard, because the acclimatization is not complete and we can note the lack of oxygen, because at this altitude it is 50% of what we enjoy on the beach.  Little by little we go higher over the edge of the glacier, until the most horizontal part of it, where we leave the dept and turn around.  From here we still have a good part of the cracked glacier and some formidable slopes that will take us to the 5,900 m of camp 1.  But that will be another day.  So far, the objective has been met.  We left 2 tents, shovels, gas and some rope in this place.  We will pick all these on a next day along with the sleeping bags, and it will be enough to mount our first high altitude camp.

Today, 10, we woke up to a fantastic sun.  The sky is completely clean and it is hot.  We notice the exhaustion in our legs, but it has been good to make them march a little.  We had fried eggs and ham for breakfast and we tried the energy recoverer from Domingo, the owner of La Paz orthopedics, who as always, has given them to us kindly.  That is a curious mix of new technology and traditional food.  Personally, I think that the two things can be together.  The taste and the senses rejoice while tasting the food of our land, and muscles get benefit of these light and energetic shakes that help us recover a little from the whipping we are getting here.  We are in a world of contrasts.  Tents on ice and stones, but inside we have the most advanced technology to send pictures and video.  Energy bars of the latest generation and a can of olive oil from Aragon.  Unbearable heat during the day and freezing cold when the lights hide.  Everything is like that here.  Tranquility at base camp or situations of extreme danger above it.  Contrast after contrast.  It is an special world where climbing, as Duch, is just a part of a whole.  You have to get used to living in these places, to negotiate with cooks and porters.  To face solitude which sometimes smothers you.  To stand the pressure of an imminent departure to a treacherous and dangerous terrain.  In definitive one has to learn to live with new rules, simple, precise and hard.  Nothing is free in the Himalayas, you have to fight for everything.  Maybe that is why we are so attracted to be here and to prove or physical strength and weaknesses.  If, as we had planned, tomorrow we would leave with all the equipment to camp 1, without a doubt, we would have a good slice of the Himalayas for our bodies.  But that, that, is another story… 

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dhaulagiri, Tuesday April 8, 2008
THE PUJA
 
The Puja ceremony again.  The lama recites some sacred chants and an offer of tsampa and food is made for the spirits of the mountains.  Everything finishes with the trowing of flour and rice to the wind and then the prayer flags are hanged in the direction of the cardinal points.  The sun shines and you could almost say that Dhaulagiri gives us its polite side.  We won´t let us be fooled.  Dhaula is a cruel and dangerous mountain, which has taken a lot of good friends.  Although the sun shines and everything looks fine, soon we will have to face a number of dangers and difficult situations.  It is just a parenthesis in our expedition.  We feast the gods, we wish us all good luck on the mountain and we celebrate the occasion with good food.  Even with our faces covered with tsampa, we sit down by the table to taste a potato tortilla in the most hispanic style, some meatballs that look homemade and salad.  The Cariñena wine wets our throats and for a moment we feel like transported home.  We are here at 4,700 m, but we enjoy our customs and gastronomy.  Tomorrow will be another day.  Tomorrow at 7 in the morning, we will leave to the first snowy slopes.  Our intention is to fix the first 400 m of rope.  It is a very vertical part, with unstable snow, which gives access to the glassier, the entrance gate to camp 1.  At the end, a long slope of frozen snow takes us to a big flat, at 5,850 m, where we will locate the first high altitude camp.  We are not going to get so far.  It is just a matter of installing equipment in this first part and to have the first contact with the mountain.  We will check the status of the snow and we will stretch our legs a little, because they haven't worked since a few days ago.  We start our first climb, with calm, focussed and with a deep conviction to reach, this time, our objective in a few weeks.  The mountain will decide later.
 
Carlos Pauner
 
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dhaulagiri, Thursday, April 3, 2008

IN THE MIDDLE OF NOTHING

I couldn't have said it better, we are trapped in the middle of nothing.  Above, a journey to get to base camp, by a very dangerous trail because of the large amount of snow that has fallen.  Below, the valley we left, covered with clouds and with bad weather.  Our porters have ran away after seeing the current conditions and the helicopter can't fly to take us with our loads to base camp, well above 1,000 meters up.  We couldn't make anything, not without waiting and see how the weather changes.  It was better yesterday, but this morning, sitting on these stones, waiting for the big iron bird to save us, our hope is fading.  While time passed by, larger clouds appeared and by lunch time the snow feel on our improvised camp.

Tomorrow we will repeat the ritual, we will unmount everything and we will wait for the weather to calm, just for a few hours, early.  Let's see if there is luck and if it is enough to reach our destination.  We need to get to base camp, mount our home, which is going to be home for a long time, rest and start a new chapter in this expedition.  All this makes us think that an expedition is a lot of things and always there is something bad with one of them and that disturbs our spirit.  We are going to be optimistic and we will hope for the best, that maybe we will soon enjoy the arrival to our destination, the end of our long trip to the most far away point from the civilization that we know of.

Carlos Pauner 

Translated form Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dhaulagiri, Sunday, April 06, 2008 

BELIEVE IT OR NOT 

Such are things in the Himalayas.  When you think that, after so many expeditions nothing can surprise you, an event comes and it does in a hard way.  Our approach to base camp has not been, after all, what you could call easy.  It is true that right now, we are resting with all our equipment here at this place 4,700 m of altitude, in the such called Dhaulagiri Base Camp.  But to get here we have lived a very hard to imagine odyssey.  On Friday we were at 3,600 m of altitude, blocked by the snow and with no porters.  Aware of our poor situation, we had decided to call a helicopter to carry all our load to our final destination.  After a day of waiting, this Friday morning, although late, that monster Russian apparatus that cruises the skies of Nepal came.  It made two trips, fully loaded, to carry our colleagues of Al Filo (de lo Imposible, of Televisión Española), because they had been waiting for 5 days in this place and our turn came.  We loaded the rig with all our equipment and the bird attempted to take off.  Impossible.  The pilot said we had to leave 400 kg of weight there.  We opted to leave some kerosene and rice.  It was too hot at that time of the morning, sustentation was low, the chopper was heavy and it was not possible to control during landing.  I could not avoid goose bumps, to remember how 2 days ago, in this very same place, we crashed on the ground with a similar rig, although we miraculously saved our lives.  The pilot aborted the maneuver and turned with no doubt, to Pokhara, where we landed by noon.  Incredible.  We were with all our equipment, wearing our mountain clothes and with goofy faces, in this pretty town where our trekking had started one week ago.  The pilot said he was sorry, but he felt he could not land safely.  We were left for a while with no idea what to do, heated up because of the tropical temperature, watching how our things were unloaded.  We had changed from being in base camp to be back to the beginning.  I could not believe it.

Luckily, we made the right paperwork and on the next day, very early, we rented a new flight to base camp, where we arrived without trouble, although, I could not believe it until I stepped on the ground.  We are here now.  This troubled trip has ended and, although it snows endlessly and the weather is hellish, we are happy because we start the fundamental part of our expedition to Dhaulagiri.  We have lived days of incertitude, of edgy flights between cliffs and glaciers, of risk, of carrying loads from here to there, of desperation and uneasiness.  Luckily everything has passed.  We are safe in our little home and although we have not been able to mount it the way we want, we hope to see the sun and to get comfortable for our long stay on the mountain.  

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Earlier: DHAULAGIRI REVISITED

Once again, our steps are in the direction of one of these great Nepal mountains.  Little by little we are gaining altitude by these green valleys, filled with vegetation and humidity.  We are on our way to Dhaulagiri (8,167 m.), a big mountain that rejected me in 2006.  That time, luck, so needed in these expeditions, was scarce and we had to quit to our dreams very close to the summit.  Time has passed by, there have been other summits and again, the turn has come for this white mountain of the Himalayas.  We left from Pokhara a few days ago, Javier, Marta and myself, towards Beni, over a wrecked road.  From there we started to walk and today, after walking for three days, we are now at 3,000 m. of altitude.  We have walked over this large valley, in parts very similar to others.  We are 2 days away from our base camp, which will be located at 4,700 m. of altitude and the news that come from above, as usual, are bad.  There is a lot of snow and porters can't reach our base camp.  Tomorrow we will go up to 3,500 m. to the Italian camp, where other groups are waiting with their porters for the weather to improve.  So far it doesn't look likely.  It rains every day and at this altitude, that means snow.  It looks like the only solution is for everybody to go by helicopter up to base camp, which is not very funny for us.  On one hand because of the cost and on the other because of the risk involved.  I still get goose bumps when I remember the accident we had while we were leaving this same base camp in 2006.  Luck smiled at us that time and we were miraculously alive and safe, after hitting the ground while taking off from our base camp.  We will see tomorrow and if there is no choice, the risk would have to be taken, like many others we had taken on our backs.  Anyway, this is not good.  If the snow doesn't let us reach base camp, it is not difficult to imagine how much snow is loaded on the mountain.  Anyway, let us wait.  There is still a long way to go and we have just begun.  Let's trust everything goes nice in this expedition we are starting. 

Carlos Pauner 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

 

 







 

 

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