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  Mt. Everest 2004: Joseba Sanz Dispatch 3


We have installed a tent in Camp I, on Everest's North Col, at 7,000 meters and carried two more tents and other materials to that altitude.  After some 1 days of irregular weather, we are back at Chinese Base Camp (5,200m).  After a brief rest, in the next days we will try to equip Camps II and III and to make them ready for our summit attack.

A MATTER OF ALTITUDE

After more than a week living at 6,400 meters you can be surprised of yourself when you can tie your shoes without gasping, or when you recover your lost appetite.

Life gets normal and from here the summit is visible just 2,400 meters above us. Something that could be perfectly climbed in a few hours if it was in another altitude.  Here, however, you have to snatch 500 or 600 meters from the Mountain at a time, to install the tents and go back to attack.

The conflict between the athlete and the climber is patent in this situation in which time -with its unstoppable advance- and bad weather -which threatens constantly- make us worry of our possibilities to make the summit. 

The ideal would be to leave from 6,400 meters with a tent on your back and to come back down after three days with the summit in your backpack.  Or, instead of this, to climb light and fast -with what you are wearing and with some liquids- from the North Col and to make the summit in less than 24 hours.

However, both styles, the Alpine -legacy of the best: like Messner-, or the athletic style (although this term has just been coined) -Loretan and Troillet in the Hornbein corridor, or the late Babu Chiri, etc.- require a good previous acclimatization.  Patience makes you carry 3 tents, maybe 2 sleeping bags and always a feather suit and, like a little ant, to set up the shelters that would embrace our triumphal march up (and down) the mountain. 

This is done by more than 150 people who siege the mountain by its North side this season, mounting little cities in each camp.

The South African doctor who lives in Oxford with his wife from Boston has his golf clubs ready to be the first to do the greatest goofiness ever done on Everest (although there is someone who did it on K2).  He and a Norwegian woman chat animatedly, with some beers, with the members of the Indian Navy expedition (from -0 to 8,000 m.) -some come directly from a submarine.  Meanwhile, their Sherpas, 2,000 meters higher, are fighting against the blizzard to install their high altitude camps and carrying their oxygen bottles.

The Sherpa town of Sholu Khumbu stays faithful to its task.  New generations gather on both sides of Everest.

Here, in the North, is one of the sons of Ang Rita: we have seen him along with his client.There is also a grandson of old Gyalzen Sherpa, who we met in Namche.  Everything is going its way.

Nothing stops.

The highest that anyone can live permanently is 5,300 meters (that high is the highest town in the world -in Peru).  Above 6,400 meters no one knows when acclimatization ends and when deterioration begins; each day is a test when you get up in the morning or when you tie your shoes.

The question is: how do you breathe at 8,800 meters?  What happens up there so that Chomolungma, in the middle of this climbing madness, only allows 2 or 3 people to reach its summit without oxygen each season?

Sponsors for this adventure : Fundacion Athletic Club, Diputacion Foral de Bizkaia, Ayuntamiento de Bilbao, Euskaltel, Euskal Telebista, Bilvending, FORUM, TNT, Eroski-Bilbondo, Ikatz, Serval, Artiach, Chiruca, Calcetines Mund, Isdin, Coleman.

Joseba Sanz Basque Country Spain

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dispatches

 
Altitech2: Digital Altimeter, Barometer, Compass and Thermometer. Time/Date/Alarms. Chronograph with 24 hour working range. Timer with stop, repeat and up function. Rotating Bezel. Leveling bubble. Carabiner latch. E.L. 3 second backlight. Water resistant. 4" x 2-1/4" x 3/4" 2 oz. Requires 1 CR2032 battery. See more here.

 






 

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