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  Lhotse 2005: Everest Summiter Joao Garcia story of his Lhotse summit 2005


May 21: I was supposed to meet the Sherpas of the Korean expedition that went to equip the route with ropes that night, I always had company.  But they finally told me they would climb on the next night.  Now I knew that there were no hypothesis on the 22, Vitor Baia had it all planned: it took 12 hours, between midnight of the 20 and noon of the 21, it was 12 hours of a window with winds of 25 Km/h.  I had to face winds of 45 Km/h.  You can tell now if you see me, I look like a clown, with my black nose.  But nothing serious.

And then the Koreans did not go for the summit, I went alone at four in the morning, I left from 7,800m up to 8,000m, more or less, with terrible cold, I had a mask that finally didn't work well, I had a ball of ice next to my nose... At eight hours the sun came up and I could get rid of that nastiness, I also shot some pictures, Everest seems to be about to explode, there is still a lot to go, I continue by the corridor that takes me to the summit until a find a very well equipped route, with ropes of previous years, I am at 8,200m and there are only 300 meters left for the summit.  When I see that I won't need the backpack, where I had 50 meters of rope, ice pitons and other equipment, I leave it right there, I only take a canteen with half a litter of liquid.

I became dehydrated and on the final part I faced crossed winds, happily the path was marked by ropes and abandoned oxygen bottles that are there to work as policemen signaling the way.  I get to the summit and turn around, I came down, I even fell two times, it was a way to descend more quickly...  But it was a bad idea, I put myself in risk in a stupid way, I left myself be carried away with my stubbornness, in the final part I was out of control, I slipped, I didn't like that at all.

I arrived to camp 3 at 7,200m, and my friend Helder had picked up my material, including the sleeping bag, to "help" me... and I spend there one more cold night.  In fact I was so tired that I didn't have energy to go next door, to another tent, to get another sleeping bag, I didn't, I have given it all, a extreme fatigue, apathy, resignation to what could happen.

May 22: On the next day I woke up still with cold and I started to unmount the tent with a hammer in my hand (because they end up sealed to the ground, after all these days in the same place, gripping the ground). Just to show my bad shape, it took me two hours to unmount the tent, I was really exhausted.  I picked up my backpack and I went down to camp 2.  I didn't have energy to continue and, luckily, there were some Sherpas of other expeditions that knew I was the only one who had reached the summit and that I was in that state.  Well, against all my principles, I got a five star treatment... They put a plate of rice in front of me and I didn't have strength to chew, I was exhausted.

Anyway, I arrived to base camp.  Even so, the descent was hard, gee, a thing that Helder and I do in two hours, with a very nice rhythm, now took me six hours.  Urken was down there, the friend from Pangboche, that took my backpack - came here with 22 kilos, he was like an angel, in the altitude - and all the people were waiting in the camp, to have a party.  Well, I didn't want anything.  My party was to get inside the tent.  I found myself in silence and naturally, I was also tired mentally, emotionally, I even cried when a Spaniard went to congratulate me.  I'm serious, if my story can be used once more as an example, they won't have doubts that this is a very violent sport.

On the other hand, I was grateful to see that my degree of fatigue was like in Everest, if I had to climb 300 vertical meters more, I think I would have done it.  But I can't hide that I was scared when I saw myself alone in the mountain.  On the other side, on Everest, I saw some little lights move, it was as if I had company.  But after the moon set, it was dark and thunderstorms were seen all around, I couldn't see the lights anymore, and I thought: "What am I doing here?"  I turned around three or four times, but then I reconsidered to continue to the summit, I think that I continued because I am stubborn.

Sorry for that, but this mountain, for me it looks like a bit astonished, Pascal [Debrouwer, climbing teammate that died on Everest in 1999] is still around here.  When I came to Nepal, I got a message from Nathalie, Pascal's wife, that said: "If you see him there, tell him we love him a lot", and that has always been in my head...

Well, it is done, Helder is feeling better now, however he is frustrated for not having reached the summit.  Now we are going to accelerate the trip to Lukla, so that we don't lose the reserved flights, one that will take us to Katmandu and then another to Europe and Lisbon. Joao

Joao is the only Lhotse summiter os 2005 to date...

Translated from Portuguese by Jorge Rivera

Joao is best known as an Summiter of Everest without oxygen. He is a member of Dan Mazur's Lhotse expedition this year (unguided of course).

 

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