Cho Oyu expedition

Sunday, September 24, 2006 - 21:00

Stucked in Advanced Base Camp

It already snows for 5 continuous days here in the very core of the himalayas. No stop. No signs for the better. Just the hope. The weather forecasts from khatmandu, beijing and europe are contradictory. We cannot see the mountain, we canot even see more than few dozen meters. All the teams are back in abc waiting for the good weather. Last night only added 35cm more to the snowpack. My tent is now a snowdome hardly recognizing it from the whiteness. The snow is wet and heavy. Two tents near mine didn't support the weight overnight and collapsed over their occupants. I woke up many times in the night only to be sure that I keep the roof relatively free of snow and the vents opened not to suffocate. Not too much things are happening here during this time. People socializing in mess tents and some of them playing cards; not an activity I enjoy very much. Beside that, endless discutions about women and climbing, women vs. Climbing...and count my word, this is a sensitive topic for all of us here in abc.

On september 20th, while climbing towards camp two, just under the ice fall, Sergiu felt bad and decided to come back to camp one. It was something what later proved to be high altitude pulmonary oedema-HAPE ( I wrote more about altitude illnesses in one of my previous dispatches). He literally did a superhuman effort to get down in one piece almost one thousand meters in altitude difference . Now he is completely out of any danger but I cannot really stress enough how delicate the whole situation was. One can die soooooo easily into these high altitudes:((( Thanks God everything is ok now but the price paid is that for Sergiu the expedition is over now. The only wise thing in these extreme cases is to stop any further ascent...

Meantime, I succeeded in establishing camp two at 7200m altitude and sleep one night there for acclimatisation. The way to camp two is veeery long and strenous with some short sustained technical sections implying a bit of ice climbing. They are equipped with fixed ropes but at those altitudes they are quite demanding. From camp two the landscape is totally totally overwhelming, cloudclimbing is the way to be and the cold at night makes you think to some incendiary hot summer days in bucharest when you get crazy because of it. Just to make you feel warmer. Drop-dead gorgeous;)...but I was dreaming so much time to those moments...

I was happy I had no headeaques expected for that altitude.

While I was there, still no teams had their tents got pitched in camp three.

One avalanche stopped few dozen meters from the tents in camp two.

As the days goes by we have to keep up our morale here in ABC. Some sherpa of the bigger teams say that they haven't seen so much snow up the mountain for ten years and there is a himalayan pattern as for every ten years the fall season to bring this horrible weather. They say there is a sudden transition between the monsoon time and the winter. I do hope they are very wrong.

From one point of view, himalayan mountaineering is a game of the tuff nerves, of waiting and of patience. In those moments when all you have to do is to wait and wait and wait for the good weather to come and for the fresh snow to settle in a safe pack, you either get crazy or just become a more peacefull man.

After all the acclimatisation program I had I am now physically fit for the final summit push. Since Sergiu cannot resume the climb anymore I have to adjust my climbing strategy accordingly. Anyway , till then, all I need is just to be given a chance, one sole chance to try the summit. As all the climbers alike in the ABC...

...if it is to accept defeat and to get back, I prefer to do this forced by my own weaknesses somewhere up the mountain rather than be forever stucked by bad weather here in ABC...that's why I am asking The Godess for just few days of good weather.

Still...I am quite optimistical for the time to come :) (ALEX)

...So we have sleept through the night and second day we went back on ABC. After two dayz of R&R we started our way back to the C1 and with the thought that we will install the second camp at 7200, well nothin' much happened over the night so I'll tell U what happened when we wanted to go to camp two.
We departed late already before we left at 10:30 ,an hour established by Alex because of the tent's condenation. Tents which give us a lot of hustle ,three Very expensive pieces of Shit Mountain Hardwear EV 2 ,remember this Never Buy Them. So me beeing a bit of a rushy guy started my way up the Icefall in a verry sustained pace knowing is late to get up there install the tent and come back down in C1. Took me an hour and Twenty min to get to the Icefall which I think it was fkin fast and problably the record of the season on that bloody section off ascent . Well ,when I got to the icefall I stopped to wait for Alex ,about 45 min an hour ... And the monster grew within my right lung meanwhile without giving me any signs ,when Alex arrived we stood there for a half an hour more and then we started towards the icefall .
When I got nearly finished with the vertical ascent and wanted to pass my safety lock on the horizontal section ,a goofy fkin us boy upsails down the icefall and tangles his legs badly in the ropes... Whatta mess he was!
I helped him out and by the time I have finished the monster within me started to take over my whole body. Oedema,Pulmonary Oedema it was the name of the Monster ,nice to meet U I said after the snow arround turned green for a while and I didn't know why the Cows are not there to eat it!
Then Alex voice in the back off my head goes Sergiu! Sergiu! Are U allright? And I shouted that i'm not a 100% and that I'm a bit dizzy...
I started to desced on to a kookoo upsail as fast as the skin of my hand allowed me to and as soon as I got off the wall I tried to pickup speed down the mountain but suddenly I have lost my sight.
Than i've stopped and tried to see what is going on with my glasses,but was nothin wrong with them! I started to see again it was my brain that got affected in order to the lack of oxigen coz my right lung was flooded with plasma. The monster was inside of my body and it was trying to take over in it's own manners.
I started easyly to step down that ridge and to wqatch for the monster's next charge over my body and my brain. Two mountaniers playing pool on the side of a corniche they were pretty calm about the situation and gave me a strange look ,maybe too calm for the situation they were in, they were playn' pool onto that cracly corniche overhanging maybe 500 m not me!
Fuckin' hell this sport is full with fools! Ok ,where are they gone!?
Fuk ! Guys! I yelled . It was the monster again , it wanted to get me! It knew that I will try to help them like I helped the american guy,wich tangled his legs.
It knew ,but this time he was wrong ,I have snapped into the real time,my real time not It's. It was gone at list for now ,and I started to walk again towards C1 swinging my walking sticks.
After 2.5 hours I got to the C1 took me an hour more than climbing this section,Lars a Danish guy saw me and he knew that I was bad, and he called for Dock . Dock came and he asked me how I feel ,and if I hear It ?
I told him that I feel it too and I really need to loose altitude otherwise It will be stronger than I and it will take me to the Goddess .
Than Dock gave me a small pill and told me that will help chase It away, and he told me that I should stay, it's a long and tracherous way to ABC for a guy with a pulmonary oedema. But all I knew was that I HAVE to go down no matter what, so I started packing up my down sleeping bag and my down suit in case I can't make it so I had a warm shelter . (SERGIU)

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