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Carlos Pauner Faces Another Type of Fight
13:02 p.m. EDT Jul 24, 2003
Last Wednesday, Carlos Pauner suffered the consequences of his harrowing descent on Kangchenjunga in May when he had two fingers and two toes amputated. On May 20, Pauner summited the peak along with Silvio Mondinelli, Mario Merelli and Christian Kuntner. But he disappeared on the descent. After spending two long nights bivouacked in the open and three days with no food or water, Pauner miraculously made it back down to base camp under his own power. His fingers and toes were badly frostbitten, however, and last week, Pauner's doctor amputated two fingers from his left hand and two toes on his right foot.

Stating he feels a “certain demoralization” and that it will take awhile to become accustomed to the loss of his fingers and toes, Pauner says it is all too easy to try and second guess the decisions he made on the mountain. What if he’d done something differently? Would he have been better off had he made even one different decision during those days? Such negativity is human, Pauner surmises, but he now believes that after everything he went through, his injuries are minimal considering he could have lost his life. He views his recovery and thoughts of a return to climbing as “another type of fight.”

His doctors say Pauner must take at least a year off from climbing, and Pauner states he will not return until he is 100% recovered. While he has not given up on his dream to scale the fourteen 8000m peaks, Pauner understands it is necessary to be patient, and will take one day at a time. With time for reflection, he wonders how he will respond both mentally and physically when he returns. He stressed the importance of being 100% physically and mentally prepared as he has strived go be on all of his previous climbs. Now, however, his resistance to the cold is expected to decrease, and this will increase the amount of caution he will need in the future.

Pauner is grateful to be alive and particularly for the worldwide outpouring of support, affection and encouragement he has received throughout his ordeal.

Kangchenjunga, 8586m, is the third highest mountain in the world. It was first summited in 1955 and was the last of the big three to be climbed (Everest, K2, Kangchenjunga.) Kangch is a more difficult climb than Everest and has only had 172 summits. 40 have lost their lives on this mountain giving it a very high fatality rate – 23%.

Carlos is an experienced mountaineer who has summited 4, 8000m peaks – K2, Makalu, Broad Peak, and just recently, Kangchenjunga.

Image of Carlos treating his frostbite after his descent courtesy of Carlos Pauner.com

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