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Alex Txikon on Everest | Report II

Author: Feb 06, 2017. Alex Txikon

Balance is useless when you have fallen for a long time

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We started from base camp on Thursday February 2, not very early as ascending to the C2 (6350 m) had become a mere process (although very dangerous).

We entered into the waterfall of the Khumbu; dangerous sections have increased. I thought it would be safer in winter, but every time we climb the waterfall it becomes more difficult, more expensive and more demanding.

We are at the limit; We do not have much more equipment and we do not have the necessary resources. This Everest is going to be very demanding from start to finish; Nothing has come to us.

After 8 hours we arrived at nonexistent C2 (6350m). We left a base camp tent very well attached, but it had flown. It was time to look for a way out and to search the material by the moraine.

We changed the plan. We decided to rest on Friday 3rd and get on the way to C4 on Saturday 4th. Ay Amatxu Maitia, where I’m getting myself !!

We spent Friday 3rd  in silence. We usually laugh and we joke, but today nobody does.  It is normal, because what lies ahead is going to be very hard. At 18.00 in the afternoon we lie down to rest in sleeping bags, again silence. With the silence comes the beautiful song of the sparrows. In C2 we are surrounded by sparrows and crows, which are scary.


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23.30 hours. The moment of truth had arrived; Norbu, Nuri, Furba, Chhepal, Pemba and I meet in the tent. The nervousness shows. The cold squeezes. I did not know, but it was around 30-35 below zero. We got equipped and I got nothing. I’m quite nervous. I do not want to get cold and miss the opportunity to attack the summit on the next rotation.

We left for C4 (7,950m). Nobody talked. The night was dark, but the stars shone.

As always I had not changed the batteries to my head-torch, and I couldn't see a damn! Not that the batteries cost millions, but I like to make things last. We cannot afford to be wasteful, for example I get pissed off at the base  when they give us too much food and half stays on the plate!

We were going at a very good pace. We were going too fast. I was hanging out thinking about my things. Ay amatxu Maitia!

We entered the section of crevasses that are not dangerous, but I happened to get caught in one. Thankfully I was held by my backpack as it had no bottom ! Your body shrinks, nervousness tries to take over you, your heart beats much faster and you choke; That is what you feel. Pemba who came behind me threw a cloak and when I looked at the hole made by my body I broke the edges to see a very dangerous crevasse, vaulted and bottomless! I tried to breathe and to concentrate again, and continue dtowards the rimaya.

3.00 in the morning. The cold squeezed much more and the wind began to blow. We climbed the rhyme one by one. Fuck, I’m frozen. I looked up and saw a star, more beautiful than all the others and I aimed to achieve it. The night was very hard, therefore one had to kill time, get motivated, feel what you were doing.

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Already on the first fixed ropes, I tried to climb quickly. The cold does not reach my fingers, and I looked at that star that for some reason that even I do not know protects me. On a night like this, you’re so close to the sky that it seems you can reach it! I am so silly! They are millions of light years away!

At 5.00 we were in C3 (7250m). I could barely feel my toes, and I wasn't the only one. We all accelerated the pace and went as fast as we could so we did not freeze. An hour later, the sky was not so dark and I stopped seeing that most beautiful star above all others.

I looked down the valley and I was perplexed by the dawn, probably one of the most beautiful sunrises my eyes have ever seen; The majestic wake of the Chomolugma, the views … but at the same time, the dawn punished us, the wind blew in all directions and the cold gained in intensity.

I ground my teeth and I glanced occasionally at the Valley of Silence and I enjoyed the sunrise and the views. I could draw strength and determination to continue.

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We took advantage of about 200 meters of old ropes distributed in 6 fractions. It became very vertical. I looked at C2 constantly and the sun still did not hit C2. They were the hardest times, the wind punishing us.

At last the sun appeared in C2. That meant that it was 9.10 and we were about 7,800 meters. We had on our right the C4 of Lhotse, and even in the shade, they were already 8 hours in the dark and shade.

I wanted to pull resources and there is one that never fails. It is very painful but it is worth: I got on my knees on the floor and I cut the circulation of blood for a few minutes until suddenly I began to feel a few painful gizzards. That was the signal. Then I got up and the blood began to flow again. Just remembering the pain I had, it brings back bad memories. My tears fell due to the pain, but when the pain disappeared I could feel it to the sole of the feet.

It was not until 11 in the morning that the sun appeared and we finally warmed up. We flanked by a strip of snow  and we saw the South Collado. At last! 7950m ! I left the 15 kg of tent, gas and rope I had carried, and pull down with Chhepal.

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Concentration was at 200% for the descent. Abseil to abseil, stones began to fall, especially the last 300 meters of fractionation in fractionation. I did not look with my eyes what I did, I just looked up slope to prevent one of those stones from opening my head. Last abseil; at last! I looked up and still could not see Nurbu, Nuri and Furba. Chhepal and I crossed the glacier.

I was surprised: I was exhausted. I closed my eyes, because they hurt me (all night I went without glasses) and closing them relieved the pain a little. I fell asleep, even when I stood up. I drew strength from I do not know where to recover my Second trophy in this expedition: a bottle of old oxygen. I like old things and at home I have already three ,and this is the second that I recover.

It was in a penitent about 4 meters from the ground, and I made a superhuman effort to recover it. I ended up defeated and I remained seated, while Chhepal looked at me in astonishment thinking what the hell will do this mad man! With all the effort put in today, I do not think it’s the only time he thought that about me.

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We got to C2 and I had it clear; I told Chhepal that it was better to go down to Base Camp. He did not believe me because he said nothing. He said he was going to rest. 15 minutes later, after drinking something, I prepared to descend since it was 25 km to base camp. Despite being exhausted, over the years you learn to measure your strength, so I knew that I could do it unless the waterfall collapsed again.

Within reason here we try to think and measure everything; although with a challenge like this, if you really want to reach it, you need to push to the maximum. And maybe we open doors that we should not open.

I told Chhepal and asked for the walki. I think he tried to stop me, but I told him to be calm. I told him that in dangerous sections we go one at a time, right? I told him I was doing well and that it was Pablo’s birthday and to not worry.

It was 14:45. Pressing on means I can reach the reservoir at dusk, and that is the goal. I just hope that the waterfall has not fallen. It would have to be passed again. In addition tomorrow the hurricane wind will enter so it was best to get out of there as soon as possible.

Finally we were at the house at night, where Aitor had come with a Coke and our dog Gatz.

After crossing the moraine where we lived, we arrived at base camp, to the heat of the best home in the world at the moment. I sat with a fall. My feet hurt. The tips of my fingers cracked due to the intense cold and the work we have done. My eyes, my lips, … I am a mess after these last 18 hours, but happy.

A good dinner and a great birthday cake for Pablo made us feel for a moment almost like being at home. A very special birthday that we will never forget … And today, as I write this, once again I surprise myself. I have hardly eaten anything and I have slept 5 hours; I do not feel tired and the body tells me to come, that the next time we go to summit. Soon you will have news of the attack.

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Alex
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