A climber on his rest day
listens to a walkie-talkie and realizes that a Pakistani altitude porter is
coming down the glacier in trouble, facing bad weather, heavily charged and
weak, because he hasn’t had anything to eat in two days and he has altitude
sickness. He gets out of his tent, grabs an empty pack and an ice axe and
walks up the glacier, looking for this porter and his client.
Apparently, they were much
farther tan it seemed, almost at Camp I in the Gasherbrum mountains. Normally,
you would need climbing boots with crampons, an ice axe and someone to be
roped with, but the urgency made this climber from a different expedition just
to go up without thinking too much. He comes across other climbers and some of
them even talk harsh trying to convince him to leave the glacier. But this man
is determined to look for Ali, the porter.
After two hours, he sees the
Pakistani resting on the snow with his client. They were really slow! The
climber did not say much, showed his empty pack and, in silence, transferred
the load (about 20kg) to his bag. “Have a drink and see you in Base Camp”, he
salutes on his way down. It kept snowing, visibility was poor and crevasse
crossing was a real danger.
The climber returns alone,
and very quickly, to Base Camp, where Pakistani staff from different
expeditions was waiting with warm drinks.
After the climber changed to
dry clothes and Ali and his client had also arrived, the climber was invited
to eat in the kitchen, sitting on a mattress, like they do, next to the warm
stove. Ali, father of five, said something like “good man, good heart” and
they just eat with silenced smiles. It seems the food was king of special,
maybe it really was…
During the afternoon and the
next day, this climber kept having meetings with other Pakistani Base Camp
staff and high altitude porters. They were impressed and they wanted to meet
the climber that went up to help a Pakistani porter… now they salute
differently, shaking hands slowly, after putting the same hand over the heart
and at the same time gently bending forward. Meanwhile, they whisper words the
climber does not understand.
This climber, a man who has
summited Everest without bottled oxygen and is now attempting Gasherbrum I,
tells me this story only a couple of weeks after he helped saving the only
survivor of a group of porters who drowned near Askole. He feels strong pain
in his eyes, because he also forgot to wear sunglasses when he climbed to help
the Pakistani porter.
I ear his voice on the
satellite-phone and I know I must share this with everyone who loves
mountains. He doesn’t want his name to be revealed, but it’s not so difficult
to find out…
(note this is story is getting a little old
now (7-10 days... the climber summited....)
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