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 Winter Makalu 2000/2001           12-23-2000 Dispatch

Sleeping bags abducted to China 

From the Makalu base

The south wall of Makalu has clearly come back to life; the winds are raging, there are rock and ice avalanches. Krzysztof Wielicki and Maciej Pawlikowski returned to the base on December 20th since the wind destroyed their shelter at the 2nd camp. Four people remained on the wall, two in the 1st camp (5400 m) and two kilometers higher, in the remains of the 2nd camp. Everyone was to return temporarily to the base for Christmas Eve.

"In a single moment - Krzysztof Wielicki relates - the wind tore apart the tent, broke the masts. I saw two sleeping bags and several pads rise up and glide through the pass, later disappearing onto the Chinese side. Along with Dariusz Zaluski we tried to reach the end of the hand lines put in place by Maciej Pawlikowski and Jaroslav Zurawski to a height of 6700 m. We wanted to continue their work. It took us three hours to complete the path that should have taken three quarters of an hour. We had to lie down on the ice to keep from being seized. The wind was as strong as the winter on Mount Everest twenty years ago. We turned back. Zaluski and Zurawski decided to remain another night in order to rescue the second tent".

Gia Tortladze and Krzysztof Liszewski also had a difficult night in the second camp. They conquered about a kilometer and a half of the difference in altitude. When they reached the tent it turned out impossible to start the cooking stove. They made raspberry ice cream from freeze dried fruits and snow. In the morning, dehydrated, they had to descend. The cooking stoves that caused such a large problem are gasoline fueled American MSRs. This equipment, good in Alaska, does not work with Nepal fuel. The MSRs smoke, get clogged. They have to be reconciled with gas.

Half of the expedition participants are sick. The base situated at the height of Mont Blanc ensures a rest, gives a feeling of safety, but it is not a sanatorium. "The altitude in connection with the strong winds cause sleep disorders. The exertion, glacial dust, dry air and loss of water lead to a drop in resistance" - explains expedition physician Roman Mazik. "Most of the participants experience feverless inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. At the base their strength and resistance return, though slowly, while climbers are emancipated at the upper camps.

An earlier stay at high altitudes also does not provide any guarantee that a climber will tolerate the next stay problem free. Krzysztof Wielicki made a decision: "We all have to descend to the base, treat our wounds, recuperate and repair equipment. Christmas Eve in a few days. Time for a moment of relief".

written by Monika Rogozinska, "Rzeczpospolita",
transl. by "TRANSLATOR" Technical Translation Agency
http://www.rp.pl  ("Rzeczpospolita") and
http://www.translator-warsaw.com.pl ("TRANSLATOR")

NEXT UPDATE - MONIKA ROGOZINSKA From the Makalu base Dispatches

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