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  Ivan Vallejo Ricaurte: Autumn Dhaulagiri 2006


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Base Camp at Cho Oyu (5,680 m)

Dear friends of Ecuador and the world. 

I greet you again from BC at Cho Oyu after this long snow storm has ended, after it started last Thursday at two o’clock in the afternoon and finally yesterday, Monday, at three in the afternoon it decided to stop.  You can’t imagine the happiness it was for all of us who are living here in BC to see the sun and feel its caress after a long absence.

The dawn of yesterday, Monday, was dramatic because during the night it had snowed some sixty centimeters, so most of our tents were in risk of being buried under the snow.  After breakfast, despite the increasing wind and snow, all the climbers put on their windbreaker jackets and pant

It really was a long storm.  Five days of low temperatures, a lot of humidity, without seeing the sun or feeling its warmth, you really miss it.  But, well, now I can tell you that the sunset was beautiful.  Cho Oyu as the most important thing around, completely white, being painted by the colors the sun gives when it goes to work on the other side of the world, I mean, where you are right now.

Tomorrow, Wednesday 27, to finish the process of acclimatization, I climb again to C1 (6,300m) to spend one more night at that altitude.  On the next day I will climb to the location of C2 at 7,000 m to spend just one night at that altitude.  On Friday 29, I will go down directly from C2 to BC and I will finish my acclimatization process, I will return to Katmandu and after a short stay there I will leave for my objective of this fall.  Leonardo will be with me up to C1. 

This is the plan I have for the following days, I hope, God willing, that the conditions remain good and I can do what I expect. 

I thank you a lot for the mails you have sent mentioning my two last chronicles on the summit of Kangchenjunga.  I have to tell you that the summit of that mountain has been one of the most beautiful and important experiences of my life, I am so happy to have made it and shared it with you. 

A warm hug from BC at Cho Oyu 

Iván Vallejo Ricaurte


Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera


Friday, September 22, 2006

Base Camp at Cho Oyu 

Dear friends of Ecuador and the world: 

Greetings from BC at Cho Oyu, from where I am writing to you, at 5,665 m of altitude.

Cho Oyu is the sixth highest mountain of the world with 8,201 m, with a summit which I was able to reach in October, 2002.  I am here again today for my acclimatization process before I face, God willing, my thirteen eight-thousand meters summit, the Dhaulagiri, 7,167 m. 

You should ask what am I doing here in Cho Oyu if my objective is Dhaulagiri, even more when the first mountain is in Tibet and the second in Nepal, separated by some 800 Km, more or less.

Good question, I would say.  This is the answer.

As you know I was last year in Dhaulagiri reaching 7,850 m, very close to the summit, but I had to turn back from there along with my teammates because of the great risk of avalanche that was in a corridor that had to be crossed to get to the summit.  After this inconvenience two more attempts came and we went from bad to worst with the weather, when in one of them, when we got to what was our Camp 2 we could note with disappointment that it had been buried by an avalanche.

I tell you this to confirm how difficult and dangerous Dhaulagiri is.

That is why I decided to acclimatize on a different mountain, in this case in Cho Oyu, to diminish as much as possible the possibilities of risk because of long exposure in the risky scene.

My plan is to acclimatize in this mountain, which is very high but with a very low risk percentage (one of the reasons why this is the most climbed eight-thousand), until the end of September, then go back to Katmandu to then travel to Dhaulagiri.

The program I should carry is the following: climb three times up to 6,300m, to the site of Camp 1.  Sleep three nights there.  Reach twice the 7,000 m mark, the location of Camp 2, and sleep there once.

Only after this plan is carried on I will be ready to face Dhaulagiri, alpine style, which is the name of the technique of climbing a mountain of more than eight-thousand meters without previously installing camps, but taking off from the foot of the mountain and climbing it day by day until the summit is reached.

The site from where I am writing is in the middle of a rocky place which is more long than wide, sided by a gray slope of sand, gravel and huge rocks on one side, and by a tongue of cracked and broken ice on the other side, that in its less chaotic part has a mountain that connects Tibet with Nepal, that has been called Nangpa La for hundreds of years.  There are yak caravans every Friday coming by this place, guided by their Tibetan yak drivers that go down to Namche Bazar (3,800 m) for the Saturday fair, the most important in the Valley of Khumbu (the area where the Everest National Park is located).  There they commerce, interchange, buy and sell salt, meat, rice, furs, precious and semi-precious gems. 

I write from this place to tell you that the acclimatization process is going fine, thank God.  On Monday 18, I climbed up to 6,300 m and I came back to BC.  On Tuesday 19 I rested.  On Wednesday 20 I climbed again up to 6,300 m (Camp 1) and I spent my first night at that altitude.  On the next day, Thursday 21, I climbed up to 7,000 m, the altitude of Camp 2, and I went back to Camp 1 to spend another night there.  Today, Friday 22, just a few hours ago a came back to BC to take a break until Sunday to restart the final part of my acclimatization on Monday 25.

During all this process, I am enjoying the pleasant company of my Ecuadorian friend Leonardo Vivar who has decided to join me in this acclimatization plan and to be my aid at Dhaulagiri’s Base Camp.

I send you a big hug with my love. 

Ivan Vallejo Ricaurte


Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

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