Summiter Carlos Pauner returns to Everest to attempt without oxygen!
By Javier Pérez
We have gone through the
Khumbu Icefall for the third time. We have reached C2 at 6,400m, located in
the Valley of Silence, at the bottom of the Southwest of Everest. The idea of
this third trip was to go directly to C2 to spend the night there and continue
with acclimatization. We left early, but the sun goes up fast and the heat
builds among the chaos of the blocks of ice of Khumbu. This heat flattens me,
so when we got near C1, I stayed there to spend the night, and Carlos is going
directly to C2.
On the next day, early in the
morning, I leave from C1 to C2, to join Carlos. At that early hour, the whole
Valley of Silence is mine. The sun has still not risen and the temperature is
low, some -10ºC. I prefer this light cold, to the heat of noon. It's
strange, but in this Everest for the masses, I don't see anybody. I enjoy
taking some pictures with this precious light that floods everything, and a
little later the first far silhouettes appear on the superior edge of the
serac of Khumbu, down there, under C1.
I continue my slow march of
acclimatization, I pass some small crevasses, which the Sherpas have
previously marked with little bamboos to avoid surprises. Some other ladder
lets me pass the huge transversal crevasses that cut the inferior part of the
Valley of Silence or Western Cwm. Once this rupture zone is passed, the Valle
is very flat, or so it looks, although it really has a light slope and the
length is tricky.
The silhouettes that follow
me get closer. They are very loaded. Now I distinguish them: they are Sherpa
porters, the "tanned" as we friendly call them. To the side of the huge
backpacks they carry, hanging from their shoulders and front, I see the first
bottles of oxygen since Katmandu. I keep walking in a slow and constant
rhythm, in contrast to the repeated runs and stops of the loaded Sherpas. The
sun starts to heat the surroundings, the temperature rises quickly in this
glacier package called the Valley of Silence. I see the tents of C2 closer,
there are a lot of them here and there. Camp 2 is located on the lateral
moraine that descends the west ridge of Everest. Suddenly a group of very
loaded Sherpas pass me at full speed... I distinguish one of them... is Pemba,
my porter. I call him by his name, we smile and we shake hands and give
mutual pats on the back. He stays behind from his group a little, there are
just 500m to go. He start running after the group and I go with him, 100
meters later something tells me I can't run so much. I stop and they go.
Some minutes later we all meet in C2. The Sherpas have ended their carrying
for the day and take off for Base. I use this magnificent morning to shoot
all we have covered with Carlos. The parts of the crevasses and ladders, and
the panoramas of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse take us all morning. By dinner we
are in Base. The next assault will take us to C3 on the flank of Lhotse, over
7,100 meters. But that will be in a few days. Now we have time to
recapitulate, rest, put our head in order for the next efforts, to look to the
Khumbu Icefall hoping it still respects us and admire the silent effort of the
Sherpas, anonymous protagonists of this Everest.
I would like to thank with
these lines the sponsors who have made possible this Everest for me: the
Government of Aragon, the City of Zaragoza, Heraldo de Aragon, Ibercaja,
Montañeros de Aragon. And the collaboration of Casa Artiach, Alpina
Sport-Artic, Ortosport, Telnet Redes Inteligentes S. A. and IES Los Enlaces.
I can't forget my family and friends who have suffered and enjoyed the
mountains so many years with me.
Translated from Spanish by Jorge
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