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
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
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
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
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera