Chronicle from BC in Nanga
Friends: In the present chronicle I share with you the facts that happened on
Saturday, June 18, when we arrived to Base Camp.
We were all minding our business, fixing each of our personal tents, when
Manuel Vasquez came, a boy from Aragon, asking for help, anguished, because an
accident happened in Camp 1 (5,000m). A block of ice fell on the back of
Raquel Perez (San Sebastian), a dear friend of mine; she is immobilized in her
tent, possibly with a fracture, and she has to be evacuated.
Without thinking twice, Edurne and I got ready to leave to help her; in my
tent, which I had just started putting in order, everything was a chaos. I had
to turn it all around to find gloves, socks, sunglasses, etc; meanwhile, Josu
and Sebas had improvised a stretcher with rods from the shower tent, ropes and
duck tape. With some suggestions from Sebas and a pack of cheese crackers
given by Mariane, Edurne and I take off in a rush. Ahead of us a group of
Swiss had left before, another group of Japanese and one more of Asturians,
where Jorge Egocheaga goes, a physician who I met last year in Cho Oyu. Two
Czech friends join our rush: Radek and Mhiska, who I met in Shisha Pangma,
also last year. The four of us go up flying, puffing like locomotives,
fighting this horrible snow that wets us and sucks us down to the knees. At
the edge of the glacier, the Czechs stop to put on the crampons and I continue
without stopping, as in a competition, a competition to get as soon as
possible to help my friend. While I puff and sweat, from time to time I have a
moment to think and I hope it is not something grave what happened to Raquel.
I reach the Japanese, I greet them and they let me pass. I reach the Asturians,
I greet them and they also let me pass. After crossing some ugly looking
crevasses and thinking that they can be complicated while taking Raquel on the
way down in these conditions and during the night, I stop to fix a clip in a
rock that sprouts from the snow. After doing it and after catching my breath I
continue my race. I reach the Japanese again, they let me pass and I continue
my flight. From time to time I see images of the last ascent I did on Cotopaxi
a little more than a week ago, just before coming to Pakistan, as part of my
training. There, puffing and flying like now, it
took me 2 and 10 hours to the summit.
I climb through the snow sinking all the time, it is night already: 19h20. I
can't see where the camp is by I hear voices, I must be close. Raquel, I hope
you are fine, don't worry, we will take you out of here!
At 19h30 I get to the
location of the camp, there are two Swiss and Jorge, the doctor, as part of
the rescue team; doing company to Raquel, who is already wrapped in her
sleeping bag, on two isolating pads making a stretcher. Her teammates are
there: Wille her husband, Diego from the Canary Islands and the two Xaviers
from Pamplona. I greet Raquel, I give here a quick kiss, I caress her cheek
and cheer her up telling her that she will get out of this one right away,
that she will be okay for the fiestas of San Sebastian in August, that we will
dance to the tune of Juanes together.
Slowly the rope starts to move and the body of Raquel slides on the snow held
by everyone who came here in her help. By the end of the snowy slope, over
which the movement was easy because of the gravity, the trail from the edge of
the glacier to Base Camp is eternal, because we have to walk all the way. Then
we use the stretcher and we lift her over the snow, the rocks and the stones.
It begins to snow lightly and when I ask for relief to rest I note a precious
image in the middle of the night and the mountain: dozens of frontal lamps
lighting the way, dozens of hands taking turns with the stretcher and several
voices of love and support for Raquel: Joining hands through the rods of our
improvised stretcher, but above all the beautiful attitude of solidarity of
the Japanese, Czech, Canarians, Spaniards and a South American.
At 10h30 in the evening we reach BC, where they have improvised a place for
first aids and Raquel is left in the hands of Jorge. We say goodbye, wet,
dripping because of that humid snow, but warm on the inside, covered by the
warmth of solidarity.
Note: Monday, June 20, Raquel was lifted by a helicopter to Gilgit and
tomorrow she will be in Islamabad. The doctors said she has a fissure in her
IVAN VALLEJO RICAURTE
Translated from Spanish by