REPORT | Gossiping at almost 8000 meters
They give us good part of meteo for the 14, we go for it.
We left on the 10th, not too early, Norbu, Chhepal and me. No major problems than solving the icefall. We reach the 2C, 6.350 mt. In about 8 hours. Between Norbu and I we rode the 2C again; Chhepal arrives somewhat later, at about 19.00; We are inside the sacks at -32 degrees below zero, the night is very cold.
It is already dawn and these are still snoring; I’m tired of being 14 hours inside the sleeping bag. I wake them up and we’re going to prepare something to eat: rice. That yes, but thanks to Endika and Beñat, they have brought us a lot of things from Basque Country, and among so many, a couple of chop ribbons from Tolosa (thanks to Tedi !!!!).
Day 11 is our day of rest in 2C and how well we assemble it: at 16.00 hours arrive Nuri, Furba and Pemba. We talked for a while… and for the sleeping bag; tonight is even colder than yesterday.
Day 12; Day of work: we leave for 3C Norbu, Chhepal and me, team A. Team B, will jump up to 4C on the 13th. We left 2C at about 11 in the morning and in 5 hours we arrived at 3C. The rays of the sun warm us well into the evening; That’s when we get into the sleeping bag, we talk with 2C and BC.
And the weather is confirmed; The plan is to start the day 13 at 3 o’clock in the morning. It’s midnight and I’m anxious to get out; Suddenly our tent moves; The serack creaks with great force and my heart triples its heart rate; In three seconds Nurbu and me are out of our sleeping bags, with the front lights on, looking at our faces of fear, thinking we were sliding down the slope. I half-body out of the tent, we both look at Chhepal who has not heard of anything and we start laughing and I’m silly too fast since I’ve been like a little bird outside the tent, and we put ourselves in the sleeping bags.
I look at the clock and at 1.30 we are melting snow; The night is very busy; It is very cold and the wind hits us very very hard.
We wanted to leave at 3.00 but ended up leaving at 6.00. Team B has finally come out at 2:00 in the morning of 2C, and we are practically caught out of 3C. The wind doesn’t subside at any moment; I carry all the clothes I have and still I’m frozen!
They follow me Chhepal and Norbu, and my mind only thinks of counting steps, imagine the height in which we will be. The idea around my head is where I caress those longed and desired rays of the sun; Until 11.00 isn’t going to be, but where will it be?
I have measured at what time the sun begins to stick in different areas and that serves to cheer me up; How long it takes me; It isn’t until we are about 7,550 meters, crossing the yellow bands, when the sun begins to shine with great timidity. I haven’t felt my feet for two long hours; Neither I nor the rest of the team.
Things get complicated and a lot at about 7650 meters, Chhepal comes and tells me to go down; The wind hits us more intensely, suddenly we got together and I tell everyone to trust me; The weather will change, and the wind will subside. Now it hits us from the west and is planned north, northeast.
We can’t with the cold and after talking the plan I tell them to please use the bottles of oxygen that they carry. Usually they use 3 in a summit attack, but each of them carries two bottles; Pay attention to me and connect the regulators.
The wind blows more steadily and with much greater force; We are at 7800m across the spur of Geneva; They don’t see it clear and I put myself in the head. I don’t know if I can keep a good rhythm for them since I don’t use artificial oxygen, but I think the intense cold doesn’t stop me; The wind sometimes causes us to fall to the ground; Is being overly difficult and compromised.
I speak to you all and give you encouragement, and trusting the parties to death, very mentally. For a moment I think of calling walkie with Aitor, since the prediction is not being fulfilled. But talk with walkie is to stay without fingers, we will be at 45 below zero and with 60 km per hour of wind! I don’t know how I stand! The Nanga Parbat was much easier compared to these moments!
Chhepal approaches again and tells me to go downstairs; I ask them again, that we will not do any madness and that the wind will stop; I say them: follow me.
The fixed rope is broken. I pick up a stake and start to re-equip, the eclimb I left at 4C; We see the 4C already but the wind is unbearable, we can’t take more than two steps without throwing ourselves to the ground; I put another 100 meters more for our safety since the previous time we took old intermittent cords.
We are in 4C. Norbu, Nuri and Pemba follow me; We can’t stand; I take out the first tent and among the 4 it is impossible to assemble it; We wait for Furba and Chhepal, meanwhile one of the rods has been broken and in the southern hill to 7.950 meters, minimum will be 50 tents. It’s such a bleak place!!
And there I go to gossiping, to try to catch a rod, and it happens that the tent to which I go is a deceased person! Fuck!! In the conditions we are in you are many things in your head and one of them is that you can end up the same.
We tried among the six to set up the second tent and that is impossible; Nothing has ever happened to me: being unable to build a tent among six!
We throw some stones on and I’m going to gossip again. As he arrived, he had seen epigas cartridges and none of us had sleeping bags, so extra gas! It will make us spend, less badly, the hours prior to the summit attack;
I approached the tent I had signed and I can’t believe it. Another deceased person!!!. I don’t know their identities. A huge hug to family and friends!
I leave the cartridges of screws and make a second attempt to mount the tent; We can hardly incorporate, again the 6, and we give by impossible; I quickly talked to everyone, deposited all the material and started down.
I tell Nurbu that I don’t feel anything, that please accompany me in the descent and… The rest will catch us. They’re all plugged in. It’s 5:30 p.m. Either we move, or our lives move to another stage.
I ask for a walkie and after a moment of total confusion I get one. I speak at last with the Base Camp where I confirm that the part has changed and that we must get out of there.
Finally I don’t pull it off; I feel responsible for my team, at all times; I have pressed to get up here and everyone has risked their lives, so until the last one doesn’t start the descent. It’s difficult to calculate but the wind is constant and surely its intensity will exceed 80km per hour at least, pulling below!
I don’t know how we have been able to overcome all these moments. We started to rappel and we all go to one. I notice that we lose height, but I don’t feel the nose, nor the hands and what to say of my feet!
I had calculated that I would hold 4C and there I would warm them; The extra drop to 3C will pay dearly! We passed the yellow bands and there are 8 rappels to 3C; We arrived at night and I can’t even cry from the pain I have!
We decided to spend the night in 3C. I offer my sack and mat in case anyone can’t more and prefers to sleep in 3C. Finally we get everything inside the store: crampons …. Nurbu, Chhepal and me.
We melted some snow, just two sips each and we put everything inside the sleeping bag. Second night without sleep: I can’t the pain and the cold. Chills that accompany me all night and this pain in my feet hasn’t let me rest for a minute.
In principle today we wanted to go out with the sun. Already worth of suffering so much! Nurbu at 7.00 has woken up and suggests that we go down; There’s the tent that pays! It’s been a long, hard night! I become mentalized and I know that one last step is missing.
With what I have suffered the most has been putting on my boots; In 10 minutes I was prepared and I left the first preceded by Chhepal and Norbu. What he didn’t know was what was about to happen.
Four rappels and I look up. I see Chhepal to enter in the vertical and Norbu still very close to the site of the 3C. The wind was blowing hard all the time!, All night blowing and now doesn’t leave us a second; Blows with a lot of force, is very very cold!!
I come with stiff hands. I go rappelling with the gloves, it doesn’t give me for more; I’m in one of the fractionations; I’m with the mittens trying to pluck my safety carabiner to the next fractionation, the trigger has been hooked on the thumb of the glove …
Something hits me, I don’t know Alex, what’s happening!, I don’t see anything. I’m only concerned that the safety carabiner is passed by the rope; I’m falling faster and faster; I know I’m going in an avalanche, and I know I’m going to have a good time! If I haven’t plated the carabiner I know that I will die and if it’s plated, I will stop after falling this fractionation that are minimum of 100 meters!
I think I hit the slope in these 100 meters three times. As I’m falling at a great speed, I finally stop short; I brake the fall, a screw, and I can’t breathe. I was very overwhelmed; I barely feel a hint of air.
I am watching and feeling for as long as I am; Fear takes hold of me since it goes more than a minute without air in my lungs! Finally, I begin to breathe! The avalanche begins to be of stones and hundreds of stones fall.
I look up and see Chhepal holding up; Norbu has had more luck and nothing has fallen; I sit looking down the valley, hitting myself hundreds of stones; Waiting for the death.
I am very caught and I can’t do more… At almost ten minutes they stop falling stones; I look up and I think like oh my god, I’m alive! One among a thousand!!
With all my energy, I start to rappel again with the gloves, as fast as I can and Norbu and Chhepal follow me. We meet again at the base, and Chhepal is bleeding from the head, it has a gap.
Tomorrow will be evacuated to Kathmandu.
We have had a lot of luck! What fear we have gone! Every time I see myself falling, at full speed a shiver runs through my body and I still do not know how I have not broken anything after I brake in the dry.
That does hurt every part of my body; Hope tomorrow is a better day. We help to Chhepal.
We get to Cy start for the Base Camp, the wind blows even with a lot of force; We are all on the rim, but with a smile, and thinking about the waterfall, we have had enough today. It’s been hard days; very very intense, with a very high commitment.
We get into the icefall. I only have strength but I go very quiet, I only beg every serack or in exposed areas that don’t fall now, now no please! I get to the deposited and there Pablo and Aitor are waiting for me.
I think I’ve wanted this moment since I left Base Camp on the 10th, but right now after what I suffered and suffered I have to say that I feel a little more alive.
The team is very touched. We lost Carlos, then Lakpa, now we are without Chhepal and only 5 left, I feel very strong to try again. We’ll see what happens next days.