Note, several updates below, delayed because of sat phone
problems. Also note they didn't go directly to Makalu from the beginning.
They went to Imja Set (Island Peak) first and they mention other peaks,
before going to Makalu. They had to go back to Lukla to then start their real
approach to Makalu.
TRAGEDY: "One of our Sherpas has been
We were crossing the second Col,
the West Col, 250 very tight meters. The worst rock ever, all broken and
bad. They are still installing the fixed lines, they beg the porters to
wait. No way, it was the West Face, at 9 am the sun didn't shine. They went
up in a rush all together, I guess because of the cold. Someone throws a
stone, which hits a porter on his load, he loses balance and falls a hundred
meters bouncing on the wall. Dead in the act.
After half a minute the porters
go out in a stampede. They leave their loads scattered by the wall and go
away. We all go crazy to convince them to wait for the sun and to not go
away. Thanks to three who didn't go, they go down with the loads, risking
their lives again. There is no way to convince them to use a harness. Then
it is time to move the body down.
We make a stretcher with canes
and ropes and it takes seven people hours to move him down and out of the
glacier. We have to stop every 30 meters. We can't give one more step. Only
desperation moves us to keep going down, leaving a trail of blood on the snow.
Finally four porters come to meet us and they move him down, in a ball inside
one of their baskets. It looks like we are more touched than they are. We
end the day where we started, we arrive with the last lights of the day,
physically and psychologically exhausted.
After the meeting during dinner
we ask ourselves: Do we go home? Should we continue the trek by the easy
side? Do we go by helicopter to Makalu's BC and continue despite everything
with a slightly heavier backpack? We will ask our pillows about that.
We decided to go to BC by
helicopter. The problem is that it looks like there is no one available. The
one that was working in this area have just crashed, precisely at BC in
Makalu. It looks like our agency is negotiating with the army. We had to
arrive today to BC. From today, each day we lose we diminish the
possibilities of success on the mount. The food for the trek was calculated
until today, from today it will be trouble. So we are going down to 5,000 m.
If a helicopter shows up it
could pick us up here easier, and if there is no one, we are on our way down
by our own means. The caravan is on the move again, down the valley, this
time the last one is the DEAD SHERPA who goes in a basket of a teammate.
Because of the problems to get a
helicopter to evacuate the body and us, they have decided to bury him here.
They have only made a hole, put the body in it, thrown three fistfuls of
rice, lit two candles and covered it. Nobody said a word, prayed or showed
some emotion. It looked like they were just doing some other field work, like
going to get water.
Not even all the Sherpas in the
caravan came. It looks like death is lived here with less drama.
There is no helicopter, so we
continue going down. We look like a defeated army. We are hungry, and what
is worst is that we continue losing days of BC, disillusioned. We are going
down by the Khulu valley, which is the fastest and safest way to go down. In
the worst of cases we will have to go by foot down to Lukla, fly to Katmandu
and fly to Tuglintar and to the normal trek to Makalu.
We passed Mera pass at 5,400 m.
It is covered with fog and it is a glacier of half a Km. that has to be
crossed. We can only do that because the track is open, but the environment
is impressive. It is like following the line of life between the crevasses.
We ended fine, in the first
human settlement in 6 days walking above 5,000 m. They gave us dinner in a
kind of barracks where there is a fire with no chimney. You can barely breath
because of the smoke there, but we lived the authentic rural Nepalese
to hell. Today it all started fine. We will arrive to Lukla today.
The porters go down singing and shouting curses, they go down happy, they go
home today. Halfway we can confirm a helicopter to take us to BC tomorrow.
During the afternoon we arrive
to Lukla, where it all started, the situation turns like a Kafka story. One
of the porters denounces to the police that the death was not an accident,
that the dead one was pushed by other teammates. The result, five porters go
to jail while it all is investigated. We can't fly tomorrow either, for that
motive. We'll see if we fly day after tomorrow once and for all. And there
is no big cargo helicopter.
We will have to make three
flights with a smaller one, that climbs lower, and that won't get to BC. So
we will have to walk one more day to get there. We have got to Lukla and it
looks like we have came down from our expedition.
NOTE 05 NEPAL
From the optimism of the last
note until today, there have been numerous events that will be a little
complicated to summarize. Today our trekking friends have flown to Katmandu,
concluding their Nepalese adventure and going back to the busy civilization of
the cities. We were a little desperate and we wanted to fly by helicopter to
Jangle Karka, to reach Makalu's BC, something that is now looking impossible.
Let's wait luck changes and everything starts to get better.
These past days we have had
difficult times which I now tell here:
On the 22 we confronted our
first peak of the three we had to cross to get to BC. Anphu Lancha, 5,845
meters, with our 20 porters we worked for 9 hours to cross the difficult Col
with some very vertical parts, the installation of 250 meters of fixed lines
let us finish the journey tired but satisfied by the success over this
On the 23 we spent the night
before going to the glacier that had to take us to the West Col. We explored
the access by the afternoon and we prepared all the material, to leave in the
first hours of the day to equip the wall that is our part of the Col. Still
in the darkness of the night we left with Babu the Sirdar, a porter and three
climbers. With the first lights we were by the foot of the wall and we found
some installed lines which we followed, fixing our own safety line, everything
was going quickly, thanks to the help of those lines but even so we could not
finish equipping before the porters began to arrive.
Although the Sirdar gave
instructions to not get into the wall before finishing the equipment
installation, soon the lines were being used. It was a very vertical terrain,
easy, but with a very loose rock. What followed was very unfortunate: a rock
came loose impacting one porter and making him have a deadly fall of over 100
meters. The terrible event made all the porters in the wall to run in fear,
abandoning their loads.
As you can imagine a series of
situations that had to be handled without losing calm started for us,
something the facts hardly let us do. The first thing we did was to pick up
the loads at the foot of the wall and take them down, a job that was mainly
done by the Sirdar and three or two porters. We gathered all the group and
porters at BC of Barruntes and we proceeded to recover the lifeless body of
Dorbe Mongar, who us climbers brought down to the end of the glacier where we
were relieved by four porters.
All the porters denied to pass
the Col again, we were a day away from BC but actually we were many days away.
We tried to get the agency to get a helicopter, but it looked impossible to
get one with enough room and that could fly to the altitude where we were.
The phone started to work, doing a fundamental labor, which left us without
communication with you, while trying to organize such a situation.
Facing that we started to
descend to Lukla, which was five days away. On the 25 we went down to 5,000
meters and we buried Dorbe, after we didn't get any instructions from the
family or the agency. On the next day with hardly any food we started the
quick descent of two and a half days that took us to Lukla.
Before the phone went dead
everything was prepared so that in several flights the 7 climbers could get
out of Lukla on the 29. But… when we got to this town we found that one of
the porters, who we considered a good person because of his work and behavior,
apparently argued with his teammates, abandoning his load and went to the
police with the lie that it wasn't an accident and that a fight between
porters was the cause of death of Dorbe. As you can imagine in Nepal this is
serious. Flights cancelled, wait for the family, 5 innocent porters arrested,
the police, the political representative in office… Finally everything was
solved and this morning we met little Ratna Ranja, 6 years old, son of Dorbe
and his wife, who we waited for and we feel in need of helping them in the
Today we had to fly also but the
cancellation of the flight for the next day has provoked a delay in the
arrival of the helicopter and since noon the sky is covered with clouds and it
is better to wait for the first hours to fly safely.
Will we fly tomorrow at 6 h?
Will we arrive to BC?
We have our spirits a little
low, because days are more necessary every time. We still trust our strength
and that maybe our luck changes soon.
Translated from Spanish by Jorge
Lukla. During the evening, a crowded dinner of brotherhood: expedition
members, trekkers, two of the dead Sherpa's brothers, our liaison officer, the
agency representative, the military authority in Lukla, the Maoists
representatives, all the porters (those who carried the bag are the ones that
serve the tables). The helicopter had to take of at 8, we are right beside it
at the runway. Suddenly there is an emergency in Everest, then at 12, no,
something at 2, the weather got bad, better to take off in the afternoon.
Another day in Lukla.
Translated from Spanish by Jorge
May 11, 2008
10 desperate days of work with
the few electronic devices we brought but it looks like they are working
perfectly today. We are at BC in Makalu at almost 5,630 meters of altitude,
where we arrived on the 2nd, not without trouble, to reach this place which
The 3rd was used to organize a
little and to rest, for calling it something. Considering we arrived with
acclimatization to altitude and a kilometric very important march, we planned
to ascend for 5 days to let us improve our acclimatization, sleeping one or
two nights in camp 3 (C3) above 7,400 meters.
FIVE INTENSE DAYS IN THE HIGH
ALTITUDE TO CONCLUDE ACCLIMATIZATION
Coordinating our job with two of
our Sherpas, we ascended on day 4 to C1, located at 6,400 m, where we spent
the first night with no altitude problems. I have to recognize that the route
to this place looked different from what I remembered from the winter
expedition of 1997. I think that no matter how much they tell us, we are not
conscious of how fast we are wrecking our planet and I make this comment after
having the opportunity of looking at the impressive glacier retreat that is
looked by these slopes of Makalu.
The weather has been nice for
days and that let us enjoy some extraordinary days of mountain, although cold
during the nights and by sunrise, with these conditions and by a glacier
terrain that hid some dangerous crevasses, we arrived to the second high
altitude camp, not far away from C1 and located at 6,685 m. We spent two
nights there and on May 7 we started to ascend the mixed wall, with rock, ice
and snow that takes to a Col called Makalu La.
During winter we attempted to
ascend by a corridor located to the left of this one, but in this occasion the
work of other expeditions, fixing the needed lines to progress safely force us
to remain in this zone. It is fair to recognize that the work that is done by
other expeditions let us progress quickly over the whole mountain.
The wall presents very vertical
sections and progress is slow, because to the difficulty we need to add the
altitude that is felt heavily once you start to move at 7,000, we need almost
7 hours to get to C3 (7,455 m), where we spend two very hard nights, because
of the altitude, the cold and some typical symptoms due to the lack of
On the 9th in 7 hours of descent
we reached BC, anxious to have some rest to recover and with the idea that in
a couple of days, if the weather permits, we could attempt the summit. Today
a group of at least 8 climbers are attempting the summit, with excellent
weather conditions and yesterday Juan Oiarzabal and Jose A. Rojo (Gorri), with
a Sherpa, reached their objective.
We feel satisfied of how we are
going, considering that we reached BC 8 days after what we have planned and we
must recognize that we are a little nervous looking that in these days other
climbers are reaching the summit and we are caught in a changed plan. The
luck that we've had lately in similar situations makes us not to trust all
BC 5.630 M. 2 MAY.
C1 6.400 M. 4 MAY.
C2 6.685 M. 5 MAY.
C3 7.455 M. 7 MAY.
C4 7.700 m.
Translated form Spanish by Jorge
Earlier: ANDALUCIA MAKALU EXPEDITION
We can not send the chronicle from
our computer because the battery went dead and we are having problems with
energy sources. Today, 21, we are at the foot of Ama Lhapsa. We had three
very intense days on the mountain, from the last inhabited location for us in
the next days, Chukung. We have used it as BC to climb to Imja Set, 6,189m,
which all the members of the expedition summated, including the trekking
members, on the 19th.
After a nice day of rest
yesterday, preparing the loads for the next four days, we continue today with
this difficult and isolated zone which will take us to Makalu BC.
Right now we are having excellent
weather, with just a little nasty wind.
The Andalucia Makalu Expedition
2008, an official sports event of the Andalucian Mountain Climbing Federation
is formed by Fernando Fernandez-Vivancos from Granada, Jorge Vasquez from
Sevilla and 'Lolo' Gonzalez from San Pedro. The three sportsmen will attempt
to reach the summit of Makalu, 8,463 meters of altitude above sea level, which
makes it the fifth highest mountain in the planet and is included in the group
of most difficult mountains of over eight thousand meters, along with K2.
Earlier: We are in Namche Bazar at 3,440 meters of altitude, where we
came yesterday after a complete journey walking. Today we dedicated the day
to visit the towns of: Kunjung (3,790 m) and Khunde from where all the group
ascended a small summit of 4,200 meters.
In these days we met the members of diverse expeditions to
Everest, among whom we see certain confusion, because also on the Nepalese
side, the climbers and tourists won't be able to climb above camp 3 (C3) until
after May 10. All this situation and the closing of mountains like Cho Oyu by
the Chinese government have taken a lot of expeditions to change objectives,
heading to other mountains. For us all this is not good news, because we
wanted to feel nice on Makalu and we fear there would be too many expeditions
(as we see it), which we will find at BC.
We will continue our progress tomorrow and we will reach
Pangboche (3,985m) from where we will enjoy the beautiful sights of Ama
Dablam. And we expect two more days to reach Chukung, the last town before we
get into the land of the three peaks. This will also be our last BC to
attempt the ascent of Imja Set.
Imja Set is also known as Island Peak and has an altitude of
6,190m, with this ascent we just want to continue acclimatizing our bodies to
altitude, to attack Makalu with the maximum warranties.
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
NOTE 01 NEPAL
ANDALUCIA MAKALU EXPEDITION
April 10, 2008
On April 7 we arrived to Katmandu, the capital of Nepal, and
we started the numerous paperwork and shopping that an expeditions of these
characteristics need. It has been a day of a lot of work dedicated
exclusively to pack all the food, tents, gas, etc. While the country has been
paralyzed by elections.
The 7 climbers of the expedition (four Basque and three
Andalucians) and the 5 Andalucian teammates who will go with us up to base
camp (BC), have left everything prepared so that we could fly tomorrow to
Lukla where we will arrive with 210 Kg of materials to start the journey that
will take us to the base of Makalu. Other 350 Kg will leave to the base of
the mountain, with our Nepalese BC group and two high altitude Sherpas that
will help us during the climb.
The route is known to the climbers and we hope to enjoy as
always the singular landscapes of the route, to be on the 12th in Namche
Bazar, where we will have a day, to dedicate to acclimatization to altitude
and from where we hope to be able to send a new chronicle to tell you how the
approach to the mountain goes.
During these days we will have a journey that is not usual
to reach Makaly and is considered as one of the most interesting and hard
treks there are in Nepal. Three peaks are waiting for us, which are around
6,000 meters of altitude and the summit of Imja Set, located on the impressive
south ridge of Lhotse.
Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera
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