Félix Criado, Íñigo Gutiérrez, Paqui Vicedo and Iker Mediavilla rest in a hotel in Kathmandu. It is not surprising that they are fatigued after completing the journey from Spain by car, along 14,453km, 30 days, 12 countries and an unrepeatable experience.
They have arrived just in time to join, on January 10, the expedition of Alex Txikon, who in a few days will try to ascend the Ama Dablam (6,848m) in the middle of the Hielayamic winter. However, at some moments they came to think that they would not succeed, since the expedition has faced some serious setbacks. The main one, when they were denied entry to Iran because the Isuzu they were driving was in the name of a company and not in that of one of them. They lost days and almost a thousand kilometers searching in Turkey for a city with a consulate where they could obtain an accrediting document. Already in the Persian country, they had to resort to the friendliness of the premises to refuel, because the fuel cannot be paid in cash, but can be exchanged with a card. "Having solved that aspect, we promised them very happy, but then Pakistan arrived," says Iker.
“There - he continues - we had to cross Balochistan, where foreigners run the risk of being kidnapped and made us always be accompanied by an escort vehicle.”
“The problem is that the escorts circulated very slowly, at 20 or 30 kilometers per hour, to save fuel, and that they took turns every few kilometers, so we had to wait continuously,” adds Felix. "That, along with a change of route, and seeing the days go by, was psychologically very hard." Nor did it help to find a SIM card that would allow them to connect to the Internet and, with it, access traffic information , hotels, use the translator to get along with the locals, who normally don't speak English, etc.
The team expected to arrive in Islamabad on December 28 but did not reach the capital of Pakistan until January 5. For this reason, from that moment they imposed a very hard routine of driving, eating, sleeping and driving again, always in turns at the wheel, without pause or detours. "We have not seen anything from Pakistan or India, we were going as carriers."
Another problem has been two wheel blowouts, one of them on the highway, the stress until they found spare wheels, and driving in some sections. "Especially in India: there people drive recklessly, and the roads are in a very bad state, so driving, especially at night, was tremendous," says Felix. "Percances luckily we have not had, but scares, scares we have had a few."
Another experience has been the management of the equipment, after so many days locked in the vehicle and without stopping. "We've been arguing in turns: Me with Íñigo, he with Paqui, Paqui with Felix, until all the combinations are completed," jokes Iker. “That, in reality, has been the good thing: that when there have been problems we have discussed it, we have held team meetings when someone has felt bad, and we have finished a journey that we started without knowing each other, being great friends.”
“If managing the team has been the best, or most important, part of the trip, it has been able to deliver humanitarian aid in Islamabad to Ali, the teacher of Askole, and thus try to improve the life of this community a little,” says Felix.
In addition, the ton weighing solar furnaces (manufactured with support from the Basque Energy Agency), solar panels with energy-saving light bulbs (donated by the EKI Foundation), school supplies and warm clothes collected by the Association of Independent Mountaineers of La Coruña, a shipment of food for the expedition, plus the climbing material collected in Pakistan and from the previous expedition of Alex Txikon, have saved the environment approximately 3,755 kg of CO2, compared to the carbon footprint that would have been transported All that by plane.
"The best thing is that we have found people," everyone says. In particular, they keep an especially good memory of Iran, where they have found an extraordinarily friendly and hospitable people. "What the news says, what they tell us about those countries ... is wrong," says Felix. “I have realized that I had prejudices, that I thought I did not have them, and I have learned that I was wrong,” acknowledges Iker. “Nobody has given us a bad face, they have given us what they have been able to do, even people living in very difficult conditions, and that has impacted us and we were even more happy to be able to give some help in our path.” Paqui only He has saddened to check the situation of women in Pakistan, whom he has not seen even on the street. “Well, there are bad people everywhere, too,” says Íñigo. “But there is that learning that gives you travel and helps you see who you can trust and who is better to try to avoid; It's also part of the adventure. ”
As to whether they would repeat the adventure or recommend it,.