Determined to make an Everest summit attempt
Alex Txikon seems to be euphoric. “I do not feel tired,” writes the 35-year-old Basque, after having descended from Everest South Col at 7,950 meters in one go to Base Camp at about 5,300 meters. “My body signals to me that we will go to the summit the next time. Soon you will have news of the attack.” Before, Alex – along with the Sherpas Norbu, Nuri, Chhepal, Phurba and Pemba – had ascended to Camp 4 for the first time during his winter expedition.
Close to the sky
Txikon and Co. set off from Camp 2 towards the South Col at night, the thermometer shows around minus 30 Celsius. “I’m quite nervous,” Alex describes his feeling before heading out into the starry night. “I do not want to go cold and miss the opportunity to attack the summit during the next rotation.“ The climbers are rewarded by the view. “In a night like this you are so close to the sky that it seems you can reach it.”
200 percent concentration
The six-man team fight their way through the Lhotse flank in the cold that is intensified by the wind. “It is not until 11 a.m. that the sun appears and we finally warm up,” writes Alex. A little later, the climbers reach the South Col. Txikon is depositing 15 kilograms of equipment in Camp 4, a tent, gas cartridges, ropes – and turns around immediately: “Concentration to 200 percent for the descent.” After a short break in Camp 2, Alex decides to descend to Base Camp, without his Sherpa friends who feel too exhausted and want to follow the next day. “Over the years, you learn to measure your strength,” says Alex. “So I knew I could make it unless the Icefall collapsed again.” That was exactly what had happened on the previous ascent, the team had been struggling to find a new way through the ice labyrinth.
This time everything is going well. 18 hours after the start at night, Alex reaches Everest Base Camp. “My feet ache, the fingertips have cracked by the intense cold and the work we have done. The eyes, the lips … I am a mess. But happy.” And ready to climb up to the summit at 8,850 meters the next time. Now, however, it is first of all necessary to sit out the announced storm and to recover.
Date6. February 2017 | 10:05