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  Carlos Pauner Mt. Everest 2005: It's been a month...


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

By Jose Manuel Herraiz

It's been a month today since our arrival to base camp and it is not a day like the rest.  Carlos and the other members of the expedition climb for the fifth time to the high altitude camps to complete the process of acclimatization.  I prepare the camera and get rid of the useless accessories.  I do it with care because it has to pass Perez's test, our high altitude cameraman, who knows very well the effort needed to drag unnecessary weight above 7,00 meters.  Despite the early our, seven in the morning, the sun already shines on the glacier and the summits that surround base camp.  Regularly, the deaf rumor of an avalanche makes us look up and our eyes follow the snow falling, harmless in the distance, until it stops.  I sit on a rock, next to Carlos' tent, and I witness the ritual once more, while he prepares the material and dresses to march to camp 2.  Tafalla is with me and we both stay quiet, like armor aids in front of the master, ready to get his boots or to pick up his mittens if he asks for them.  Carlos takes the flag of Aragon, which is has carefully folded, and is ready to take it up to camp 3 and leave it there until the day of the summit.  The red and yellow bars shine so much under the sun that we can hardly see them.  Tafalla asks Carlos to bring the fabric, bows his head and kisses it.  I don't want to be less and I do the same.  We laugh and try to make the moment funny, but only for our shame and not for anything else, because our patriotic moment couldn't have been more innocent or spontaneous. 

We give a hug and Carlos leaves smiling to the bottom of the Icefall.  His figure goes away with the tinkling of snap harnesses until he disappears among the dunes of stones of the glacier.  In the years I've been following Carlos Pauner's expeditions, my confidence in his possibilities at the time of confronting a mountain have constantly grown.  So, when I see him going away on the moraine, I don't have tragic or pessimistic thoughts.  But at the same time I also know, and my time here has confirmed it, that crossing the line from base camp to the mountain is something very serious that justify, while someone climbs, to have some reserves.   

The non-climbers stay down and during the next days the mess tent will look very big and bored.  With me are Joan Carles, a journalist that writes about the Mallorca expedition, Punchof, an Hindu friend of Jesus Calleja, climber from León, and Tafalla, who I named before, a singular character: he is not only one of the best rock singers in Spain, but he is also a showman and impersonator, among other things, able to take in the same backpack the complete collection of Conan The Barbarian along with Erich Fromm's pocket edition of "The Art of Loving".  By affinity, because of his being from Zaragoza, we have adopted ourselves mutually to move together around this wonderful and hostile world, which so many times makes you have someone closer to give a hand.  Pauner has already nicknamed us as Barbie First-Steps and Swee' Pea, maybe a little jealous of how we are getting along.  Well, it will pass.  Here we are, waiting for our heroes to come back and hoping that the expedition can go on and that it ends with success.  From time to time, we get to the Icefall as if it was a port, with our faces like those of seamen wives, waiting to see Pauner and company's sails, announcing that everything has been a success.

There is little left.  A memory for those who follow us and a special one for Charo, my family and friends from Zaragoza.  See you soon! 

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Dispatches

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