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The North Face of Nuptse: Willie and Damian Benegas


Dear Friends! Great news and misfortunes from Nepal. Finally, I have arrived back in Katmandu, after two long months in Everest base camp. Yes, we summited a new route on Nuptse’s main summit, by what we believe to be the first truly alpine ascent. Our summit was, to the best of our knowledge, the 8th successful ascent ever, for the entire mountain.

Our climb started at 19,500 feet, at the base of the impressive North Buttress of Nuptse’s North Face. In pure alpine style, we established the "Crystal Snake”. After 42 pitches and endless soloing, we reached the top on May 23 at 1pm. It took 5 grueling nights of bivy, and 6 days of climbing with difficulties up to 5,9 M4 WII 5 to get there. (With all of the amenities of a 25,000 foot mountain loaded with fresh snow. During our climb, it snowed everyday!) We rappelling down the Doug Scott route, and were back to our safe haven of Camp Two of Everest by 22hrs of the same day.

Without all of the support from everyone, the realization of this dream would have been unobtainable. Thanks so much to The North Face, Petzl America, La Sportiva, M.S.R., Sterling Ropes and Cliff Bar. Again, our success was possible because of you. And I don’t want to forget about all of the help from Jenny.

Someone said to us that climbing this route must have to be one of the most difficult things we ever done in our lives. My response to that is that it was not the climb that was of the most difficult, but instead what happened to us after of our summit. Just after summiting, we spent the next 24 hours trying to save the life of Sherpa Karma. We asked desperately for help through the radio both up the mountain and down to base camp and hardly got any encouraging answer. After 10 hours of continues effort, sadly he passed away at the beginning of the ice fall at 19,000 feet. “The gods of the mountains follow him in his journey to the afterlife”.

And to add to this experience, just a couple of days after this misfortune, a big M17 helicopter with 8 members crashed into base camp. Again we found ourselves desperately trying to save the life of people. Yes, my friends, what was hard for us was not the climb. It was the continuous effort to save the life of human beings, and not being able to achieve it. Today, I’m now back in Katmandu. This morning, I went to the hospital to visit with the survivors of the helicopter crash. I donated some blood for one of the injured that needed it. At the moment, I am feeling weird. Maybe because it was a lot of blood that just passed through the tube. But it is okay. It is a small payback for all of the help that we have been given.

In the next couple of days, I will have a full detailed history of our last two weeks adventure in the rings of our route “The Crystal Snake of Nuptse”. And I want to say again, that without the help and support of all of our sponsors, we would never have realized this achievement. Thank you all! Willie Benegas

Dispatches

 





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