FYQ - Trip to Nepal
Probably every climber hungers for hills and mountains. If not, he or she appreciates them at least aesthetically. Although I always was a rock climbing fan, after reading books written by different Messners and Rakoncajs I changed my mind and the hunger for altitudes higher than those medium-sized became deeply rooted. However, establishment of a certain quest and its real acceptance didn’t come from day to day. Several friends of mine who already climbed in higher altitudes told me it was not so bad, and this information helped me. But the main reason still was my desire to try the mythical heights, the death zone. To give it at least a single chance and then maybe coming back to rock climbing, reading or knitting.
So it started with a pact with my friend Kšandy to do something like that. Well, Sisha Pangma was the choice. (In this connection, me and Asue spent a nice and full day in the Adršpach Rocks when completing all “eight-thousanders”, also a fulfilled quest.) Good heavens, this cannot be true. My best success was the laughable Damavand in Iran, so I should be careful with this eight. Just no, I’m not crazy. So let it be a seven somewhere in China. Financial demands, administrative troubles and bullying in general finally excluded the Chinese side. And then, in autumn 2014, there was an advertisement on the Climber website. “Snow dogs for Manaslu wanted”. The eighth highest mountain in the world. So I nodded my head in agreement.
The most people from my vicinity were shocked, they did not like it and they were afraid. No wonder. My references were the reason. I made some climbs on the rock but such a mountain is something quite different. Ultramarathon guys have a chance, not sandstone climbers. I am not able to finish a marathon race, I stood three times in my life on cross-country skis, ten kilometres on bike gave me buttocks pain, my fingers got frostbitten even in the Tatras, etc. Well, so I slowly reduced my climbing activities and wanted to find out what fitness is. But I didn’t go too far. One of my summer hikes is described here, see www.manaslu2015.cz. In spring, my “training” was replaced with sicknesses and various temporary jobs – anyway, such an event is exhausting enough, also financially. We tried to find some sponsors, usually without any success. A real confusion. Many mails, pressure from all sides. I made some trips only in summer, such as working as a guide for the Expedition Club to Kazbek and Triglav, with a blonde to Hardangervidda. My morals changed during it. From the position of “I don’t know why I’m doing it, it’s crazy” through the mournful position of “Every man has to die, I will die soon” to the final position of “OK, I can do it, it will be fun”.
And suddenly it was here. Parting, that was hard. And reception at the Havel Airport – we have never seen before those eight remaining members of the crew. And it didn’t look bad at all. Dubai, Kathmandu, first, second, third party. Two days of shopping. Me and Kšandy were the only two “Westerners” on the mountain who had no cook at the base camp. Our budget relied on cheap Nepalese products made of feather. In particular, trousers, slippers, and finally also anoraks and sleeping bags. The first days of the trek. I was really afraid of it. It is a well-known fact that many climbers fall ill during the trek and take antibiotics to get to the base camp. Loose bowels are also frequent. We were unbelievably lucky. The members of our group of ten were very sociable. Apart from a few excesses everything was fine.
There were many “first” here – lassi, rickshaw, big colour butterflies, misty mountain forest, suspension bridges, hoopoes, monkeys, dal bhat, and so on.
In the last village of Samagaon, me and Kšandy stayed one day longer. Night fever did no get out of my way. We were surprised that local women came to take our baggage. I do not know where the boys were hiding but the girls brought baggage weighing 45 kg up to the base camp, 1,200 height metres. Actually, local women are really somewhere else than we or our gentle girls are. At the base camp, at the height of Mont Blanc, there were a few additional surprises. Just to sum it up: our agency was the cheapest one, and so it looked like. But it still was better than heated tents with carpets, wifi and choice from three dishes in one course.
It was gloomy, cloudy and wet at the base camp, so we started climbing on the third day. Our group was free. Pairs or trios knew each other and climbed according to personal preferences. Me and Kšandy were always together. We planned out to make the hill in three acclimatization stages and so we did. But some of us went to the hill even seven times. Each stage was different. The first one was terrible – we were not accustomed to the altitude and the very heavy backpacks. I really wondered what happened to me. Lungs completely down, two hyperventilating bags that could supply an entire city. Two nights at 6,400 metres, satisfaction. For taking a rest, we two went down to Samagaon to get some fresh air and to experience the agreeable symptoms of the low altitude sickness (good sleeping, good breathing, good appetite). I don’t know what the others felt, but I was afraid and scared and wanted to be at home. It all ended when we packed up the base camp. A good but short-time solution was watching a movie on the tablet computer, one could stop thinking of that unusual situation of isolation. But then it was even worse when the movie ended and I opened my eyes to the darkness, rain and loneliness because even when being in a group of people, I was alone all the time.
The second stage was a jump from C1 to C3. The main problem here was my head. I was a zombie when crawling to C2, lay three hours dead in the tent, then got up and went higher. My partner managed to dig a platform for the tent in the meantime. I slept badly every night. Sometimes only a part of the night, and it was a good result. Sometimes I had to take half an ibu, the others took one. My nose was clogged, I had to breathe with mouth but then I had a scratching in my throat just like having a cat with glass claws there. Even the smallest motion was a challenge. When eating in lying position, you had to lie down and catch your breath. In the evening, when you could not fall asleep, you were sentimental. Songs and cards from home made it worse. Your brain was somewhere else, switched over to the mode of zone, isolation, fear, etc. In spite of that I wondered that we were able to continue. But this was not a question of decision. It worked automatically. I convinced myself that will was the most important thing there. Followed by acclimatization, gear, good condition.
The next rest at the base camp was long, some five days. I was surprised by getting breathless even there. After different backstage dealings the most expeditions to the mountain packed it up. We went to the summit push finally. I expected it to be without problems but the opposite was true, bitterly true. Although acclimatization was better, the body was tired of the stay in that altitude. This was surely the slowest of all stages. At C3, our tent was playing the game of blind man’s buff with us. It hided itself somewhere, joker, and we were able to locate it only after several probes with the shovel. Then it took us one hour to dig out our red grave from its ice crypt. The next day we had fun as we were forced to overtake a classic expedition procession on the way to number four. I came there tired and immediately started making a lot of drinks. Waking-up time at midnight and what a trip it would be without vomiting, not less than three times. We were six Czechs at number four and each of us climbed more or less separately. I didn’t mind it at all, it was an adventure and I didn’t want to slow up anyone. My limbs were noticeably cold but I was ready to risk some light frostbites, go on, and hope for the sunrise. I was surprised that I was still able to go. In the middle lap, I slept over my walk and I had dreams, some kind of an inner robot walked instead of me. But let me shorten it. Just below the summit I met Pavel and Kšandy. He was laughing and already finished smoking his summit cigar. The views were surely fantastic but I didn’t want to watch. I felt relief only and wanted to be down. Then the hard workers came and Šťoury wanted to be interesting again and injected an anti-altitude one in his vein. The descent was also hard. Next day we came back to number two. Stitched through like patchwork blankets. And in the meantime there was a drama at number four. One human life was lost due to human selfishness and laziness. This was described in detail already by Tráva.
What now? I think I write too much, so I shall shorten it. The trip lasting one and a half months cannot be described briefly. The final result was good, six people out of our group of ten reached the summit, we met many good people and saw a tiny little bit of Nepal. Someone enjoyed it, someone not. Naturally, I am very happy that everything worked out fine. Being back at the base camp, I was really relieved. Due to the fact that all the invested energy turned out well. An excellent experience. I think that this trip changed me more than all the other trips I ever made. But details will remain hidden. Well, and now I want to address Mr. Paťák to be the next writer, to be a man and accept the challenge.