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  Mt Everest and K2 Summiter: Ivan Vallejo Kangchenjunga 2006: TO DREAM ABOUT THE SUMMIT AGAIN


TO DREAM ABOUT THE SUMMIT AGAIN

The warrior of light knows the importance of intuition.

In the middle of the battle, he doesn’t have time to think about the blows from the enemy.  Then he uses his instinct and obeys his angel.

In times of peace, he deciphers the signals God sends.

People say: He is crazy.

Or: He lives in a world of fantasy.

Or also: How can he trust in something that has no logic?

But the warrior knows that intuition is the alphabet of God, and continues listening to the wind and talking with the stars.

Paulo Coelho

 

When I arrive to Camp 3 (7,250m) and I find out that Juan and Josu have descended to Camp 2, I realize I have no hope to make another attempt together, from here, without going down to Base Camp.  Although that is a crazy hope.

I get inside the tent to wait for Fernando, along with Ferrán and Mikel who are melting snow to hydrate.

A little later Fernando arrives, destroyed, more because of despair of not having reached the summit than because of exhaustion.  Now inside the tent I hardly talk, despite having the absolute determination of coming back next year for the summit, I am very sad because of what happened to us this time, and to finish the hara-kiri I open up the tent zipper and I confirm once again that the weather is perfect, as it should be, so that tomorrow, May 20, could be the summit day.

I eat olives, a little of tuna and I force myself to finish the liter of water with Isostar.  I get into my sleeping bag to chew my sorrow, our mistake and my pain.

Since I am very well acclimatized (third night sleeping above 7,000m) sometimes I sleep and I even dream, but each time I can I punish myself thinking that early tomorrow morning, when I wake up and I open my eyes my first thought would be: You are in the wrong place, moron.

Everybody is asleep, them in the other tent, us in ours, and suddenly, those apneas that are so common because we are so high and without oxygen, wake me up suddenly and the first thing I shout is: We are so dumb, that is what we are.

Fernando comes out of his sleep with my screaming.

-What do you say, Ivansito, what do you say?

-That we are so dumb, that the summit day was tomorrow Saturday, and not today.

-It’s alright Ivansito, it’s alright.

 He comforts me.

-Yeah, but nobody will take us out of our mistake.

While trying to go back to sleep I remember a card that Kamila sent me, which I promised to take to the summit.  There is a part where there are very little encouraging phrases, and one of them said: You have to listen to Kangchen.

This starts to turn around in my head: To listen to Kangchen.  What does Kangchen wants to tell me?  Is there still something left to do?

Dawn breaks.  Indeed, Saturday, July 20 is a spectacular day, the sky is impeccably blue and perfect, there are no clouds, no wind, nor climbers trying to reach the summit, of course.  To see such a show from the door of my tent is like an additional stab when someone is agonizing and about to die.

         Fernando and I hardly talk, in part because one wakes up a little dull because of being above 7,200m, and in part because of the sorrow that each one is chewing.  While I put pieces of ice in the pot and wait for them to melt to have water, I start to think about the only idea that is turning around in my head and that will leave me in peace with this mountain, with this Kangchenjunga: A new and last attempt, from here, without the option of going down to rest in BC, which would be the right thing to do.

In silence I analyze the advantages and disadvantages, the possibilities and impossibilities, the pros and cons.  I try to be as objective as possible, because I know that if I take the decision I will play with a two sided razor and I come to these conclusions:

ADVANTAGES

-          There is a tent in camp 4 which the Basque left for Joao, so if I make a new attempt I don’t have to carry one to that place, with the relief that implies

-          Joao will climb already recovered from BC and I think that between the two of us we can open a trail from Camp 3 to the summit

-          Joao says that the weather forecast he receives says that Monday, May 22, will be a stupendous day for the summit

-          If Kangchen goes right this time, I close the chapter and I don’t have to come back again

-          If I get to the summit I will send flowers to Kamila

DISADVANTAGES

-          Coming back from 8,375m is exactly the same as going down from any mountain higher than eight thousand meters.  Descending from so high and thinking about a new attempt requires absolute rest at Base Camp, that is the only way to recover, there is no other way.  So, staying at 7,200m waiting for Joao doesn’t add anything for me to recover.  It would be as finishing a marathon and start again with a new one, but there is nothing more and nothing less above eight thousand little meters.

-          My left big toe has no sensibility because of the intense cold of the previous attempt (-29º C).  If I face the same cold I am very afraid to lose it.

-          The worst that can happen is that I feel exhausted on the day of the new attack and that I would have to quit Joao.

-          If I don’t attempt the summit once more, all my previous work so far would mean nothing

-          If I don’t get to the top, there are no flowers or card for Kamila

The pot was almost full of fresh water and I have my decision ready.  I immediately tell it to Fernando.

-Fercho, I’ll stay to attempt again now that Joao is coming up.  Please think about your possibilities, I would love it if the three of us would go to the summit.

I suppose that on that moment Fercho was put in major complications, he had to think, to decide.

At two in the afternoon of Saturday, May 20 he had taken his decision:  He’d go down to Base Camp, he was really tired to think of a new attempt, and he wasn’t sure of himself to do it.

Of course I was very sad to be left without him, the dream had been shared between both of us, but in these mountains this kind of decisions are tremendously important and each one is absolutely responsible of them.  This is hard, but sometimes these decisions are a matter of life or death.

At three in the afternoon Fernando packed up his things and left along with Mikel and Ferrán to Base Camp, I was left alone in Camp 3 waiting for Joao and repeating in my head:  YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO KANGCHEN.

NEXT CHRONICLE:  Why is Joao not climbing?

Ivan Vallejo Ricaurte

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Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

 

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