5 de May. de 2014

Intense Days

Doch sollten Sie zu Grabe gehen,
so lohnt der Tugend
kuehnen Lauf,
nehmt sie in euren Wohnsitz auf!
- Sarastro

I no longer see Makalu in the same way as when I arrived. Everything has changed and I will have to rebuild my motivation from the beginning.
Before coming here, Makalu had been my favourite 8,000m-peak. My memories of attempting the West Pillar had converted Makalu into a temple of the most genuine values of mountaineering. I clearly remember climbing to 7,600 metres on the beautiful red rock of the West Pillar, which over time had proven to be the most amazing place I had ever been to.

Makalu is also linked to the legendary French climbers Lionel Terray, Jean Couzy, Yannick Seigneur. “It’s the mountain of the French!” I said to Yannick Gagneret when I bumped into him at Advanced Base Camp (ABC). The last time I had seen him was exactly a year ago when we shared a base camp on Lhotse. I did not know that he was also attempting Makalu this year, so I was pleasantly surprised to see him here.

However, the 2nd of May was the day that changed my view of this mountain. We had just spent an exhausting night at Camp 2 (7,400 m). Yannick had pitched his tent right next to the fixed rope, about 200 metres away from us and in a place, where we could not see him.

Details will be brief, however, the fact is that the Australian climber, Ralph Schweizer and I did our utmost best in horrific weather and dangerous steep, slippery terrain to assist Yannick over a 5 hour period down to camp 1 after he started showing obvious signs of cerebral oedema. After we had given him two lots of medication and we began the long descent at 10am.

Once out of the tent, Yannick was unable to stand up or take a single step, and I think he had realised the gravity of the situation. The terrain was the worst for a rescue. The ground we covered was diagonal, mixed terrain, with hundreds of short terrace like steps, not just vertical. Even though he was very tired, Yannick did his best to assist our rescue efforts, sliding down mostly on his backside.

Ralph and I made a good rescue team; although we were both physically and mentally exhausted, having barley eaten, drank or slept over the previous 24 hours and even though neither of us were fully acclimatised, we co-ordinated well. We constantly encouraged Yannick, who, at the time, was fading in and out of consciousness and did his best to follow our repeated and persistent orders.

At around 12:30pm, we reached the bottom of the middle snow field, and Yannick seemed pretty stable. At that point, he had neither improved nor deteriorated much and I was very happy that the Sherpas of the different agencies (Himalayan Guides, Seven Summits and Himalayan Ascent) were taking over some of the rope handling responsibilities. We coordinated the rescue via radio with Dr. Joe of Himalayan Experience, who was at ABC, and Chris Warner at Camp 1.

We still had to negotiate the final rock band above Camp 1 (6700m). Due to terrain and the bitter cold and heavy snow falls, our rescue efforts had slowed down significantly and lowering Yannick had become increasingly difficult. The weather had worsened and I could not stop shivering from cold and exhaustion. At about 3pm, we reached the point just above Camp 1 (6,700 m), where Chris Warner, Dan Jenkins and Lakbah were waiting for us with oxygen and a make shift stretcher. In my state of exhaustion, I gave Chris (an old friend of mine and impressive American) a huge hug. Shortly afterwards, Ralph and I also fell into each other’s arms to form an emotional hug, which I will never forget. Ralph and I had given our best and I think that on this 2nd of May, I lived through one of the hardest experiences of my life as a climber. Nothing compares to the looks of anguish that we had exchanged between ourselves and with Yannick over those previous 5 hours. Nothing compares to the effort we made in lowering Yannick down about 50 pitches, each one metre by metre. No rock climb I have ever done, no metre of soft snow I have ever stepped on will compare to the difficulties faced by the three of us as we came down from camp 2 that day.

Sadly, somewhere between Camp 1 and ABC, Yannick passed away. I still cannot fathom what happened that day and I still do not feel at peace with myself. I feel like the doctor, who could not save the life of his patient. Yannick was my friend, and today, a few days later, I am still haunted by doubts and self-reproach of what happened so suddenly on that life changing day.

I do not want to add more. I just want to thank all the people, who helped in this rescue, which was more or less everyone at Makalu Advance Base Camp. I especially would like to offer my condolences to the friends and family of Yannick Gagneret.

For me, Makalu is no longer the same. Someone once said that while the world keeps on turning in other places, here it stands still. And that is true, even though it is against our will. Climbing mountains, is more a question of re-starting the clock that has stopped, rather than being a strong climber. And despite the support of many people, getting this clock going again is most of the time a very lonely experience.

Thanks to Billi and Ralph for their help with this Spanish-English translation.

28 comentaris

  1. david.bagergue Va dir:

    Anims ferran, aquest estiu al G1 vaig sentir la impotència i tristesa que descrius……almenys tu ho vas intentar!!!! La vida es injusta pels que som aquí!!!!
    Diuen que quan caus t’has de tornar a aixecar, els grans lluitadors com tu s’aixequen per continuar forjant la llegenda!!!!
    Una super abraçada des de un racó petit del pirineu….

  2. Pepa Va dir:

    Ferran, què dir-te?, em puc imaginar el que relatas, el fred, baixar a un company que s’està acaban, imaginar, imaginar, però no em puc imaginar què deus de passar per dins, quina luita deus de tenir per dins, la relativitat de la vida…. una forta abraçada i fes el que hagis de fer amb confiança amb tu mateix.

  3. Tona Va dir:

    De vegades, la bellesa de les muntanyes és inversament proporcional a la seva crueltat, al igual que les persones. Per sort hi ha éssers humans, que fan que ens sentim orgullosos de ser-ho. Ànims Ferran.

  4. jaume pla Va dir:

    Impressionant, no hi ha paraules, malgrat tot, i comprenent perfectament el teu estat, hem d tirar endavant, per nosaltres mateixos i per els q es queden pel camí, ànims!!

  5. Josetxu Va dir:

    Ferrán…lo hecho es lo que se queda contigo y esas almas que la montaña nos roba son para sempre compañeras en esos lugares donde buscamos el apoyo o el consuelo de alguien que nos ayude a seguir adelante.
    Ánimo titàn.

  6. Xevi Va dir:

    Ànims Ferran, abans de res dir-te que per més que ens entossudim hi ha coses, moments, situacions lluny de l’abast de les nostres mans. Senzillament no ho controlem nosaltres. Posa el crono a zero i comença un altre “sèrie”. Mira el Makalu i veu-lo com el veies quan feies l’aproximació, com el tenies en ment des de l’última ascensió. Som-hi Ferran, amb tota la prudència del món i fins on puguis però posa el crono a zero. Amunt i crits!!!

  7. Cándido Va dir:

    Ánimos Ferran un par de años muy duros para la gente de la montaña y sobre todo los que estáis por esas cumbres, pero es nuestra pasión sino nos dedicaríamos al Fútbol, suerte y para adelante.

  8. Marta Va dir:

    Ànims Ferran, malauradament l’esport que estimem ens posa a prova dia a dia.
    Una abraçada molt gran
    El millor de les muntanyes ens que treu el millor de nosaltres i això inclou també la vida.

  9. Elena Va dir:

    Molts ànims Ferran!
    Ara ja està fet, amb el teu millor criteri i voluntat. Quina lluita interna deus de tenir ara. Això ha sigut que és un bon troç de muntanya que t’has ensopegat.
    Molta força amb el repte de superar-lo, i molta confiança amb lo que vinga!

  10. José Antonio Va dir:

    Ánimo Ferran, tu has dado todo lo que tenías, pero la vida y este deporté es así . Tu valor y entrega son encomiables, eres un tío grande.
    Abrazo y mucha suerte.

  11. Clàudia Va dir:

    Ànims Ferran, veu fer el què veu poder…!! una abraçada des de la Vall d’Aran, Marc i Clàudia

  12. durieux Va dir:

    M. Ferran : Bravo , il y a encore des héros dans l’Himalayisme actuel … un exemple pour nous tous, a true Mountaineer and a real man !
    Y D

  13. jordi arboix Va dir:

    apendre a saber-se despendre,…, vet aqui EL VELL SECRET…

  14. Jordi López Alcoverro Va dir:

    Un cop més, tornes a ensenyar al món el veritable esperit i valor de la muntanya. El que has fet, no només ara, també en altres ocasions, i de forma altruista mostra la teva vessant humana més enllà de l’esportiva, i ens ensenya com aquestes coses són les que deixen empremta per sempre. Molta força i a seguir, el que facis bé estarà….Són molts els que estem fent amb tu aquest viatge, que d’una manera o altra, ens agradaria també gaudir.
    Sort i molta força!

  15. Cristóbal Va dir:

    Ferran, gràcies per explicar-ho i gràcies pel teu exemple. Segur que no podíeu fer-ho millor… Amunt i ànims per tot el que queda!!

    Forta abraçada!!

  16. David Freeman Va dir:

    I am sure all friends and family of Yannick are more then greatfull of what you did for him that day. Sometimes our best is just not the right day or time and all our efforts do not work, you should be proud of your efforts to get him the medical aid he needed. I worked with Yannick at the UN in Geneva, he will be greatly missed by all at work and within his friends and family.

  17. Louis Va dir:

    You are brave Ferran. Nobody could have done better than you in this rescue. You must rest now and consider whether it is necessary to continue the expedition. From Quebec, I have a thought for you my good friend.

  18. Jordi Va dir:

    Estic amb un hospital amb la meva filla.
    No hi ha res pitjor que veure patir als teus.
    Segur que pateixes molt per les teves filles, pero si vols un consell, segueix el que estàs fent.
    Ets molt gran.

    Orgull i exemple

  19. Robert Orth Va dir:

    My condolence! And my huge respect that you did the best for your friend. It really impresses me. When i read it i feel lot of respect for you and your collegues and friends. I wish you the best in this hard time for the family of Yannick Gagneret and you from my heart!

  20. Nando Gel Va dir:

    Ànims Ferran. Es un cop dur però sempre has estat a l’alçada i has donat la talla i no solament per la teva qualitat alpinística si no per la teva qualitat humana. Amb els sacrificis que has arribat a fer durant aquests anys ajudant a companys en problemes has demostrat que els homes que fan llegenda no es valoren pels seus éxits esportius si no pels seus valors humans.
    Una abraçada i sempre amunt

  21. Días intensos [CAT] Va dir:

    [...] Días intensos [CAT] por rupper a ferranlatorre.com enviado: ____ El alpinista Ferran Latorre relata cómo él y Ralph Schweizer lucharon por intentar salvar la vida de su compañero Yannic Seigneur, con edema cerebral a 7400 metros de altitud, en el monte Makalu, Nepal. Estos hechos ocurrieron durante los días 2 y 3 de Mayo de 2014. Ferran Latorre es un alpinista catalán muy experimentado que ha formado parte de numerosas expediciones al Himalaya, entre ellas las del equipo de Edurne Pasaban. Traducción al Castellano en #1 etiquetas: alpinismo, alta montaña, ferran latorre, makalu, yannick seigneur usuarios: 1   anónimos: 0   negativos: 0   compartir: sin comentarios actualidad karma: 6 (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); [...]

  22. Joan Carles Va dir:

    Molts ànims Ferran, es colpidora la teva narració, segur que vas fer tot el possible i més per salvar al Yannick. Molta sort a tu i l’Enric, des de Vic.

  23. BARONIAN Michel Va dir:

    Nos paroles semblent bien futiles face à une telle tragédie …
    Compagnon de cordée de Yannick, je tiens personnellement à vous remercier pour tout ce que vous avez fait pour tenter de le sauver. Je n’oublierai jamais votre incroyable dévouement et votre comportement exemplaire.
    J’espère un jour avoir la chance de vous rencontrer sur ces si belles montagnes.
    MERCI A VOUS!!!!

  24. Bet Va dir:

    Ostres…una altra vegada heu mostrat la vostra capacitat de solidaritat. Han d’haver estat moments molt durs, que no ens podem ni imaginar. Amb tot el respecte cap al company que vau ajudar, ara toca retrobar les traces del vostre objectiu. Prudència i molts ànims!! )))

  25. Michka Va dir:

    Terrible épreuve et une issue si cruelle!
    Récit très émouvant et éprouvant!
    Merci pour tout ce que vous avez pu faire pour Yannick!
    Courage à vous aussi avec ces durs moments que vous avez vécus!

  26. Catherine Fegli Va dir:

    Yannick era un compañero de trabajo. Tengo un gran respeto por lo que hiciste. Poco hombre habría sido capaz de hacer lo que usted ha hecho, con el riesgo de perder su propia vida. Usted es una persona extraordinaria… Un agradecimiento muy grande.

  27. Feliu Izard Va dir:

    Bon dia: Anims Ferran que tu pots. L’altra dia, varem estar a la PdG (Zermatt-Verbier), a on l’Edurne va tastar una de les grans curses de ski de munt. Vigila, puja i torna !!!!

  28. Tony Dignan Va dir:

    Hi Ferran,

    My mate Ralph just passed on your link re… Makalu rescue “Intense Days”. A very powerful and impressive piece of work both on and off the mountain. Putting pen to paper, as they use to say.

    We met on Lhotse last year… Marty introduced us. You also generously provided a tent for me and Ralph as we stayed at Camp3 on way to summit. Thanks again.

    Kindest regards,

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