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  Carlos Pauner Mt. Everest 2005: EVERYTHING IS DELAYED

Makalu, K2, Kangchenjunga Summiter Carlos Pauner returns to Everest to attempt without oxygen!

By Carlos Pauner

It is well known that nothing can happen as we planned. Sometimes, we look for simplicity, immediateness and then reality only offers the hardest and longest solutions.  That's what happened to us the other day in out climbing attempt.  Our idea was to climb to camp 2, sleep there, and on the next day continue to camp 3, located at 7,200 m, on the wall of Lhotse.  We even dreamt that we could go a little higher on the next day and then go down to base camp.  It was a good, genial, idea because this way, we would put ourselves in a situation of maximum acclimatization.  This way, we could descend to some of the towns in the valley of Solo Khumbu and rest in lower altitudes, heal our throats and prepare our minds for the final attack to the summit of Everest.  Everything very nice, but reality was different.  We got to camp 2, but with a strange sensation in our bodies.  We had left at 7 in the morning from base camp and a little earlier, at 5, a big avalanche of powder snow fell down even to base camp, coming from higher lands.  We didn't give it much importance, but we had a huge surprise when we got to the location of camp 1.  The avalanche, which was powder in base camp, here in camp 1 had been of gigantic proportions.  All the side of the mountain had fell on this place and the original aspect of the camp had disappeared.  More than 40 tents had been completely buried, even ours.  The entire camp did not exist anymore.  Luckily, the few people that were sleeping in this place were swept and had injuries of different kind.  Some Sherpas had already rescued them and the rescue operation was already going on.  We could not avoid feeling a deep chill when we saw the appearance of the place.  Blocks of ice, rocks and tents debris were mixed in a macabre view.  How little we are in front of the strength of nature.  It snowed and going to the Lhotse Face in these conditions was not a good idea, without a doubt.  Another day and on the next day, with unstable weather we left to camp 3.  We were a little behind a group of Sherpas that carried loads up.  The aspect of the wall is not good.  There is a lot of accumulated snow and it is on the green ice layer where there is no grip.  A little later we are scared by a dry and broken noise.  Part of the snow wall is broken and fell over a group of people that precedes us.  Everything happens so fast and when we reach them we confirm that they are only scared and with injuries of no importance.  They go down, they say it is very dangerous and they are right.  After a few minutes of meditation, evaluating the importance that going to sleep in camp 3 had for us, but conscious of the danger in the zone, we decide to quit and go down to base.  All the trail down is done under the snow and we get to our home at the bottom of the mountain sad and tired.  There we find out that another avalanche had swept camp 3 and that some tents had disappeared.  Without a doubt, we took the right decision.  We have suffered an important delay in our plans, because now it will be almost impossible to go down to rest in lower altitudes, but we are safe.  We have been lucky, two camps have been swept and we did not have any problem, just material loses.  Now we will rest, to prepare for the days to come and to be prepared for the next window of good weather to finish our acclimatization.  We dreamt to climb just one more time though the Khumbu Icefall but it won't be possible.  It will be at least two more times, two times to go under the unstable blocks of ice, tall as buildings.  Two more time of suffering in the altitude and the weather.  Everything is delayed, but you know that here in the Himalayas there are no shortcuts.  Everything has to be gained step by step and once more, the mountain has made us see it clearly.  We have to keep fighting, little by little, day by day, while the time of the final fight gets closer.  It is just a matter of days. 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera


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