REPORT | 6 exhausting days ending in a terrifying arrival
After 6 days away from home (CB), it is time to reflect. The accumulated fatigue and extreme situations have taken a toll on me and make my rest difficult. Therefore, at this time of the morning, I wanted to take everything I have inside and make you participate in what has been lived during these last days. I hope you enjoy it with me!
On the 17th, Carlos and Chepal leave for the C1 to 6050 meters to spend their first night of height for both.
I want to highlight the work of 10 people to equip in just 6 days the famous, dangerous, demanding and which requires a lot of commitment, Khumbu waterfall.
It has been carried out by 8 Nepalese climbers, 2 ice doctors (Nima y Ghense),6 climbing friends (Norbu, Nuri, Chhepal, Furba, Lakpa yPemba), plus Carlos and me.
6 very intense days of heavy weight and making a lot of mistakes, but with motivation and affection we have gone forward. It is not until the 19th our departure, Nuri Norbu Furba and I leave at 7 in the morning and in 4 hours we reach the c1a 6050 mt.
The 4 carry more than 30 kg, 400 meters of rope each one, stairs, etc. We arrived at C1 and Chhepal and Carlos have already started, for c2 to 6400 mt. The wind blows very very hard, we have to throw to the ground with the strong bursts. We are solving the different obstacles that the glacier proposes to us; Solving crack to crack and at least we have been lucky or we have calculated well: it Has been necessary until the last scale. Once we pass the last bottomless crack, we enter the valley of silence, which nowadays of silence has little, since the wind barely lets us listen to each other, the 6 climbers are going up for the first time this slope very stretched. Norbu, Nuri, Furba, Chhepal and me.
I thought that the two Ice Doctors, would accompany us to c2, but this time, or in this expedition it’s not going to be that way. Therefore from c1 on we were 8 climbers, Norbu, Nuri, Furba, Chhepal, Lakpa, Pemba, Carlos and me.
We continue ascending. We go the 6 with a lot of weight, and the wind blows with much greater intensity, I see that something is not going well, Carlos is suffering a lot, he goes with more than 30kg, maybe that’s it, when we reach c2, we set up the shops in pretty tough conditions.
We spent the night the best we can, Norbu, Nuri, Chhepal, Furba Carlos and me. The next day the day dawns cold, but our motivation is so high that this time of the 6 members of the group, three of us decided to start work between C2 to 6400mt and C3 to 7300mt. Norbu, Nuri and I depart, very very but very loaded and the rest of the group rest in c2.
We leave the c2, with fear since the same as previous days we enter the unknown. We are in winter and the three of us alone, we cross the glacier and at about 6700 mt, our first problem of the day, the rimaya. It costs us more than two hours to visualize, to understand and then to attack the weakest flank of the rimaya and of course the most safe. We start to equip, we are releasing and we reach about 6900 meters, more or less. The day is pretty bad, we got off very very fast to c2. When we arrived at C2 we met Chhepal, Furba and Carlos, who were resting and with Lakpa and Pemba carrying more material, each carrying 400 meters of rope. Therefore the 8 in c2. These 8 climbers will work from CB to c2. Norbu, nuri, chhepal, furba, lakpa, pemba, carlos and me.
We spent a very good night. We are a good and a very close team with great desire, a team of those who each knows what to do. Carlos spend a not very good night, but luckily for us we decided to rest on the 21st day after two intense days, and It should be noted that it was the 4th night of Carlos and Chhepal in height. it is not complete rest since we move our c2, of location, 10 minutes walking higher c2. It is a hostile field, at least now cold and gloomy just 4 hours and a half of sun. Something is not going well, Carlos has got worse, we have walked 10 minutes and Carlos costs 5 times more; He barely walks 6 steps. I communicate with the base. I think we hit the mark. Aitor, Carlos and me.
In his evacuation, I would like to thank the speed and the agility of the pilot and Seven Summits in this dangerous maneuver of evacuation of Carlos from 6400mt. A highly dangerous flight.
When we heard the helicopter at about 16.30 I did not believe what was happening; It was like a miracle come true, not bad. Because one more night for Carlos would have been very hard and I think he would not have had enough strength to descend to CB.
All the protocol that we have followed has been hard , intense and a highly physical exhaustion. Finally the helicopter sets course for CB with Carlos and the pilot. Our whole plan fades away and the equipment feels very touched but not sunk.
Carlos, you have given us a lot of your motivation, I have the illusion and the desire to face, it says a lot about you, but as a person you are a great big guy, we miss you Carlitos.
We leave, Norbu, Nuri, Chhpal and I the 4, we are again very very loaded and after a great work and effort of porting and equipping we found inside a tiny tent in c3 between 7300 and 7400 meters. With very intense bursts of wind, and with the creaking of a serak that is stalking us.
A very very hard night with a lot of cold and not being able to sleep because of the strong wind, we know that it will not be simple or easy, but we are expecting very hard times. The morning of the 23rd is clear and with a little wind, at least that is the trend, we get up at 6.
Jaaa !!, Anyone leaves the sleeping bag with the falling rain! Aitor and Pablo from the base told me yesterday that minus 30 to minus 35 and light wind. Of course in c3 the sun will not hit us until 11 in the morning, and indeed it was.
Chhepal is not well and decides to get off, so, Norbu, Nuri and me stay. We left the three of c3 with the intention of equipping as much as possible. OMG, what a mistake going out without sun !! Look, I tell Norbu and Nuri!
We start climbing and I can barely keep the heat on the fingers and toes. We’re playing on. What a long time and with the sun it does not change the thing! . The cold is very intense and the wind begins to blow. Both Norbu and Nuri want to climb to the summit of Sagarmata 8848 mt.
Norbu has climbed it 7 times, Nuri 3. But they would love to do it in winter, so we tighten the teeth and all to a van. We are progressing and gaining meters. The three climb without using artificial oxygen.
I Calculate 7500. Later 7600, we surpass the bands or yellow stripes. we will be very very high to about 7800metros or perhaps. We are very happy and very happy that we are making a very small team, with many shortcomings for such a company.
We descend as fast as we can by rappelling down the fixed ropes with tremendous pain in our twins, and especially toes. We rush the rimaya and Furba approaches our encounter with some water and hot tea. Our sore and ill-treated bodies appreciate it and pride and satisfaction are so great for the work done that exhaustion or fatigue seems not to flourish in our bodies.
We arrived at c2 and Lakpa and Pemba have cooked a dallbhat, rice with lentils. What a joy to reach c2 from 7800 and find such a delicacy at 6400 mt. I communicate with the base and speak by radio; Carlos is in Kathmandu. I am happy and although he still in the hospital. How well, since all day hovering in my head.
We eat dalbhat and our bodies fall like a curse. A curse we must get rid of. The morning of 24th is clear and cold as almost always but the rays of the sun calm our fatigue and make more bearable these moments. We get up at 8, pick it up.
And we set out on the way the 7, Norbu, Nuri, Chhapal, Furba Lakpa Pemba and me. We went very fast down the valley of silence; We marked the glacier with bamboo reeds. I always like to mark it down because it always debug in errors or traces, rather the route. How happy we are!
It will not be an hour from C2 to C1, I commented that we arrived for the mid-morning snack and I’m excited. I want to go down to CB, and tell the moments of Carlos’s recourse to Pablo and Aitor and if I did the right thing. I literally start to run down the fixed ropes.
And suddenly, the curse: we are alone by ourselves and the waterfall has fallen !! No one said it was going to be easy or simple, but the commitment was going to be very high and we would have to look for the chestnuts of fire ourselves; We are with the route collapsed in a dangerous and very difficult place. And how do we continue with the material we have?
I am among Nepalese. After talking about Walki there are no very positive faces or encouraging expectations. I think they want to go back to c2. I hear the word vivac, and I suggest, “we are alone, aren’t we?” Because of the two ice doctors who have been working super hard for 6 days, Nima has gone home and Gelchen will not be able to help us if he is alone. Therefore, “it is our turn to break our backs” There is silence.
I propose first plan, very kamikaze: crunching challenges passing under the Everest seracks that spit constantly. It is very short time under the seraks. We finally discard it. Good thing the weather is favorable !!!
I take a rope and secure myself and try to find a way out of this happy labyrinth, trying to escape this curse. It’s crazy we’re fucked !!! Think Alex, think! I give a possible dangerous exit but at least not Kamikaze. I give Nuri relief and finally! Juju! Our curse is over.
But our curse has only just begun. On three more occasions, the waterfall is completely collapsed and it’s time we make a living. Since we are the 7 alone and we have done it once, we will be able to three times more !!
That simple. What it was going to be a simple homecoming it has been a whole day of effort with the resources and ideas that each of us contribute. In the spring there are many people walking through this waterfall. Unlike now I believe that 20 climbers ice doctors are in charge of maintenance. For when this happens, we were today and we will be alone !! Therefore, this serves as a learning and that between c1 and cb we will also be alone. No one told us it was going to be simple, but we are here, for the beauty of winter and its solitude!! We will see what we are capable of!
Norbu before reaching the last rappel tells me: “Alex, do you know what? I think over 20 or 30 years ago no Westerner has done what you’re doing. “I think it will not be so but I answered that I would like to go up there and go down. And when we all go down, it will be when we have done the Sagarmata. And to do that you have to work very hard.
I hug him first and then one by one to the rest of the team. I thank to them for their work one by one, I am excited and I tell them that I think we are doing well.
Now it is very late here, but I am feeling good writing to you. I have you here with me.