Everest and "fair play"
The expedition is over. We could not make it to the
summit. Of course, it was a complicated feat: only three people on this side
of the mountain have reached the summit without oxygen and everybody had help
My intention was to make it to the summit as I have
always done: without help from Sherpas and without oxygen. Something not
impossible, but difficult.
The possibilities for success were few, but it was
worth to try. The result is bitter; we have lost the game.
However, it is important to be faithful to those
principles, so next year I will be on Everest again, to try it once more,
maybe this time by the Nepalese side.
The job of installing the high altitude camps took us
a lot of time, leaving us with just one opportunity to attempt the summit. On
May 19th we left for the North Col, but -against the weather forecasts- we
were surprised by a snow storm that made us quit on the next day. Some of
those that were higher at the moment, could make it to the summit -only three
of them without oxygen-. Between May 17 and 21, some thirty people reached the
top of the world by the North Face, but the storm caught most of them on the
way down, making the descent dangerous and exhausting. Some of them needed
more than five days to descend to Advanced Base Camp. Many came down with
severe frostbite and 6 of them died -4 Koreans, a Japanese and a Bulgarian
(20% of those who reached the summit those days). This season has been
especially tragic on the North side.
Our permit came to an end and I approached the Chinese
Base Camp to negotiate a possible extension, which was impossible. We left
with the impotence of not being able to try for a second time. As in the
recent years, the monsoon was delayed more time and the window of good weather
was likely to arrive by the end of May. He who waits finds his reward.
However, the Chinese bureaucracy frustrated our
plans. I am especially sorry for our sponsors who have given their trust on
us, and for the friends that would not believe that I didn't make it. As they
say: "soccer is like that" and, although the comparison is appropriate, I keep
on thinking that determination and training can beat any mountain.
The Sherpas at Base Camp still kept saying at the end
of the adventure: Why don't you buy oxygen, and in two days you could be on
the summit? They are very used to the "tourists of Everest", for those who
only care for the summit, and not the "how".
I'll try again with the same philosophy and with all
the carefulness in the world (this mountain is dangerous and it is even more
on the North side), and next time I will make it to the summit.
Congratulations to my friends Paco and Joan who have
made it to the summit by the South face.
Joseba Sanz Basque
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera