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  Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio K2 Summiter Q&A March 2005

Update April 2005: Fernando is headed to Manaslu this spring! His Q&A from K2 is below...

Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio on the Summit K2

Q. EverestNews.com: Fernando we are so proud of you for your success on K2! How hard was k2 compared to the other mountains you have summited?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: I think it was a very vertical mountain with a lot of physical demand, it looks like the most difficult mountain I have ever climbed or attempted to climb, I think that if there is no good weather, it is impossible to get to the summit, I was very lucky on the summit day because of the stability of the weather.  I tried to climb with a Colombian friend but he decided not to attempt the summit and it was a bigger compromise for me, to have company but to also be alone.

Q. EverestNews.com: When you decided to go for the summit on K2, did you feel your life was at risk?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: I always dreamed about attempting K2 but it is a very respectable mountain, I didn't think I would make it to the summit on my first attempt, but I was lucky.  I think that after 7500 there are a lot of risks and to have confidence and prudence is very important.  There are risks but I try to have life take me to make positive decisions to go back always.  To return with the experiences is the most important. 

Q. EverestNews.com: K2 in 2004, was more like Everest in that a large number of Sherpas were on the mountain, how much did these Sherpas' work result in the large number of Summits on K2?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: I think that the Sherpas' work was fundamental to the achievement of many summits.  I, as a climber with independent decisions, think that I was at the right place at the right moment to attempt the summit.  There are climbers that talk about climbing down solo, alpine climbing, etc.  I think there was the mountain, teams working, fixed lines, climbers that don't like to climb with people they don't know.  I helped in what was agreed between the bigger expeditions and what I did was to make my strategy with what was on the mountain to get to the summit and back.  

Q. EverestNews.com: Three climbers died: 1. Alexander Gubaey 2. Davoud Khadem Asl 3. Sergey Sokolov. Some tried to make the reporting of these deaths controversial, of course some seem to try to make everything controversial. We were informed by climbers, and held the news as normal, until the families were notified. Other rushed the deaths out, and got it wrong, in reporting Sergei Bogomolov (who was not even on the mountain) as one of the missing...

What was the feeling in base camp at all of this? Or was everything one leaving as they summited?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: I tried to get to the summit of Broad Peak with Sergey but the bad weather made us turn around. Sergey had a lot of experience but all of us were in an international expedition where each one takes their decisions independently from the others and others made strategic alliances to mount camps; that is why I say we had company but we were alone at the end, that is how I felt. It has to be noted that many had taken the decision to go back and the good weather window was open. Some turned around to attempt the summit and some of us were ahead in our summit attempt, the bad weather came and the decisions you have to take become important.  In an international expedition there isn't really a leader, they are a group of climbers with a common dream, but each one works independently establishing alliances as needed.  There are climbers that talk about making a rescue but they know it is impossible to get there and carry it out because of the weather conditions.  The people that tell those stories try to look for sensational events, twisting all that actually happens.  I think that can happen to any climber ascending an eight-thousand. (On the 28th I was coming down from C4 to C2 at 10 AM and I found Sergey climbing with Davoud to Camp 4 and the bad weather came that night, it was seen coming in the horizon). (In the early morning of the 28th Alexander climbed and found Vladimir going down and he said he told Alexander to turn around, that the wind was stronger, Vladimir said Alexander told him "I came to climb this mountain").

Q. EverestNews.com: Alexander Gubaey, Davoud Khadem Asl, and Sergey Sokolov were up there attempting while you were up there. What can you tell us and the families about what happened to them?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: First, that they were good mountain climbers, that when we were in Base Camp they had communication with Vladimir who spent a lot of time in Camp 4 with no communication and then they said they would try to get to Camp 3, but the storm was very strong and they didn't had any other communication.

Q. EverestNews.com: How hard was summit day on K2? Can you describe it?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: On July 26th I think there was a race between the Italians and the Spanish to be the first on the summit.  It was a good day and a work that benefited everyone, including me.  The 27 was the best day and I think that helped me a lot, everything was perfect.  The 28th was good, but then the wind came and bad weather came at night.  On the 29th the climbers came down with a lot of snow on them because of the bad weather.

Q. EverestNews.com: Who summited ahead of you and behind you?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: I arrived last on July 27, a member of the Kobler expedition took a picture of me on the summit and Migma Sherpa was there until I got to the Bottle Neck, then I was last to get to Camp 4 and I went down to Camp 2 on the next day.

Q. EverestNews.com: You must be a national hero in Colombia now. How did it feel to come home?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: I'm not a national hero in Colombia because too few people know about the mountain, but a lot of media are introducing the sport to the average people, but it has done good for me in finding support and my ascent was widely covered.  Going back home after spending some nights in the London airport looking for a connecting flight, I think people in the counter had pity of me and sent me in business class after seeing me in the airport, and my debts and my home in "red", but I had a nice welcome from the people who know about my process in the Himalayas.

Q. EverestNews.com: How does it feel to leave your family for so long?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: I feel egotistical, sad, but it is the environment in which I survive.  I have been climbing for 19 years and I have opened climbing parks for the new generations and that is the way I get the income I need to support my family, Tatiana my wife, Tomás my oldest son and Gabriela my youngest daughter.

Q. EverestNews.com: What else did you do in 2004?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: I opened one climbing route on the rock, in the Sierra Nevada del Cocuy, 5200 m., a wall of 500 m.  I opened a route in another climbing park on the rock, some 300 m. at 4000 m. and I am trying to find sponsorship for this year, which is the most difficult in my country.

Q. EverestNews.com: Was K2 as hard as you thought if was going to be?

A. Fernando Gonzalez-Rubio: Yes, it was hard and I think everything went well for me to get to the summit, I had a lot of luck with the weather and I think that all this training has served me well.  I think that sometimes the mountains open gates for us and sometimes they close them.  I ask God to always help me take the right decisions.

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

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