Report: Expedition report part Two
The ascent by the Khumbu
icefall that day, even though I felt incredibly fine, was slow and with
pauses, a lot of people also climbed that day with identical plans as ours.
The Discovery Channel team went along with us, filming everywhere (a titanic
task, very courageous and valuable).
When we arrived to camp one,
our group was gathered and each one of us was interviewed by Shaunna, from the
Discovery Channel. Our impressions and nervousness were recorded one by one.
One and a half hour after the
interviews we arrived to Camp 2.
During dinner we chatted and
interchanged anguishes, each one of us, even though we pretended to be calm,
knew that the future was uncertain, the weather was good and it was as
forecasted, that was a factor totally out of our control and as such, it
shouldn't inflict us anguish, on the other hand our performance in high
altitudes was something we were anguished about, justifiably. Until some days
ago, our past experience about our condition in thin air above 8,000 meters
had been a motive of consideration and worry, but not much, in many
expeditions bad weather doesn't even gives you an opportunity to reach
8,000... but this time it was for real, the weather had opened for us and
while it remained good, only our own body would dictate the results... that is
what we thought...
Martin, Richard and Luis had
never passed 7,400 meters and you could see confusion in their faces. In
countless conversations I had tried to explain them and make them feel the
pain of high altitudes, the pain of walking being pushed by the mind when the
physical motor runs out, the anguish that the immense mountain builds, of
feeling insignificant when you find yourself in the hart of wild nature...
sensations and feelings that are impossible to explain and comprehend if both
speaker and listener don't have a good dose of passion and commitment... They
showed in their faces that they understood... but they didn't feel it... and
that made them uneasy... they could not feel it until they reached 8,000
meters without oxygen tanks... then they would realize what I had so much
tried to talk them about.
Alejandro and Tom, on the
other hand, had been above 8,000 meters without oxygen, and that gave them a
little more confidence, although the painful process to get up there on the
same day that you have to fight against cold, the night, the unbreathable air
and your own convictions, was unavoidable.
I felt the same as everybody
else, or worse; with anguish and fear. Out of all of the group, I was the only
one who was not considering the possibility of using oxygen tanks, I had
decided that from the beginning, I did not want oxygen tanks close to me and
having said that, the Sherpas did not bring up tanks for me, so the temptation
of using them was less, the conviction was absolute. I had stepped on
Everest's summit in 1997 using oxygen tanks halfway, my personal ambition of
stepping on the top had been satisfied with the sixth Mexican ascent, on this
occasion the compromise was very different, the compromise that ruled all my
acts this time had two views: One, of course the joy and desire at personal
level to climb without tanks, but second and most important, the
responsibility and ethic compromise with sport itself, that tacit compromise
that every sportsman who loves his sport gets, the one that gets every
sponsored sportsman to try something better to what has been already done,
that responsibility that makes you break the established records, to search
the limits of the impossible... to try... That compromise that burns and
anguishes, that scares and doesn't lets you sleep was around me every second.
On May 13 we all rested in
Camp 2. Legs, heart and lungs had they day of rest, but my mind kept spinning
with immense incertitude.
On May 14 we climbed to Camp
3 at 7,400 meters. The ice wall of Lhotse, which is between Camp 2 and Camp
3, which we had traversed many times, was in marvelous conditions, there was
no wind and it wasn't very cold, the ice had taken form with the steps of so
many climbers in a path where you could perfectly see where to put each foot,
it hadn't snowed almost nothing from May 9 and that made the steps to remain
in perfect conditions. It was incredible to climb the Lhotse wall in these
conditions after the wind I had the last time!
Camp 3 had been equipped with
two tents for two persons each, now six of us were climbing, so that morning I
asked Da Nima, the leader of our Sherpa group, to carry up one more tent to
Camp 3. Leaving two hours earlier than the climbers, they would have enough
time to place the tent by the time we arrived.
This time I was more
impressed by the Sherpas than ever before, by each one of them, not only
because of their strength and hard work, but for their disposition, their
attitude, their teamwork, and that is why I consider fair to make a
parenthesis to talk a little about them. So far we have talked about
ourselves, our feats, our efforts, our anguish... apparently we are "the team"
and "the heroes"... but no sir!, "the team" if made of a lot more people than
the seven climbers of whom I have talked about so far; "the team" is made by
those seven plus all the sponsors, who believe in our projects to finance us,
to all those that with materials, money, illusions or hope helped this dream
fly, all those who while we climbed, stayed in Mexico doing bureaucratic
paperwork or talking with the sponsors or editing the web page, all those who
went with us up to Base Camp to cheer us up, to report or to help with
communications and weather forecasts. I would not like to forget anybody and
leave them out of "the team" so I will stop listing them now, blaming only my
bad memory for the unintentional omission of someone, because my intention is
to make a homage to this group in these lines, who in occasions is left
unnoticed and that without their work, but above all without their good
disposition and attitude, we could not advance farther than Base Camp. I
refer to the Sherpas, yes, our high altitude Sherpas, cooks and kitchen aids,
ours and those of the other expeditions. They, for a salary who many of us
would not accept even to do our chores at home, spend the 70 days or more that
the expedition lasts, taking care of us and helping us. Helping so that none
of us carry even one tent to the high altitude camps, fixing some 4 thousand
meters of rope on the mountain, carrying all the food, pots and pans, stoves
and gas to the four camps on the mountain, carrying up 39 bottles of oxygen up
to 7,900 meters (our Camp 4) and without this being part of their work,
carrying their personal equipment to three or four of the group... and spite
of all, this and more is done with a smile on their faces... never, in all our
expedition we saw one bad face... of course they charge for their work and
that is why they are hired for... but the smile... they give it away for
free!... to carry backpacks of 40 kilos is a matter of strength, legs and
aerobic capacity... to want to help, to give beyond what the contract says, to
smile and give us a fraternal hug after anguishes, those are the gifts they
give us... they are a very big part of the team, they are the heroes and the
only ones that make heroes. That is why I want to write their names here in
capital letters, because they are great.
DA NIMA, chief of high
NAMGYA, climbing Sherpa
ANG KHAMI, climbing Sherpa
MAN BAHADUR, climbing Sherpa
PASANG, climbing Sherpa
LAKPA, climbing Sherpa and
cook in Camp 2
BUDI, cook at Base Camp
ROTNA, kitchen aid at Base
DAWA, handy man at Base Camp
To be continued...
To be continued...
Translated from Spanish by