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Carlos Pauner: What it takes to climb Everest without O2
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May 5, 2005 03: 51 EST
Spanish Carlos Pauner expected a lot of people in Everest BC. He thought he was used to crowded camps after climbing Gasherbrum I and Cho Oyu last year. Yet, he was amazed when he entered the canvas-town at the feet of the Khumbu ice fall. He had never seen something like that: Hundreds of people, huge expeditions, Sherpas running up and down the mountain… “So, all those people will climb the Hillary step the same day?” Carlos asked himself in a chat with his wife Mila.

No O2… for real

No wonder that his main concern right now is the climbing strategy on the summit bid. Carlos is one of the few climbers this season attempting Everest without supplementary O2. Exposure will be multiplied for him, compared with those on gas. Not a great moment to get stuck in a traffic jam above 8000m.

For Carlos, climbing without supplementary Oxygen means summiting without O2, or not summiting at all. The statement might seem obvious, but is not so. Oxygen is a recurrent topic of conversation in BC, but there are different ways to face such a challenge. Some climbers won’t accept the use of bottled O2 under any circumstance, whilst some others take some canisters “to use in case of emergency.” Some people simply state that they will try without, but will go on O2 if they consider it necessary to reach the summit. Above the death zone, it gets really hard to say no to gas if the chance is given.

Carlos is giving no chance to temptation. He took no O2 even to BC. In fact, he is the only one in his group who uses no O2 or Sherpa porters. Before departing, Carlos explained ExplorersWeb how carrying loads up the mountain was a great way to acclimatize.

Early start from C4

“While in BC, Apa Sherpa came to his tent to greet him. The 14 times summiteer warned Carlos to start really early on the summit day, in order to avoid the jams at the Hillary step. “That’s going to be not so easy. Some of the commercial teams here are considering setting off from Camp 4 at nine pm! That’s very early. I need to have in mind the fact that I am going without O2. I cannot stand the cold during the night hours as well as someone on O2. Each hour out there over 8000m counts.”

Pauner is climbing along with long time friend Javier Perez, who will as well film Carlos ascent. The pair has set Camp 2 and plan on setting C3 on the Lhotse wall as soon as the weather calms down. Cameraman Jose Manuel Herráiz is also filming and producing a documentary on the expedition; he will remain in BC though.

Still loving Everest

Carlos seems to have a certain feeling of pressure, the crowding on the upper slopes pose some extra dangers to have in mind. And nevertheless he likes the mountain; Everest provides a beautiful ascent after all. “It is just a pity that he can’t afford to launch an expedition in fall, where there are not so many people,” reckoned Mila from home.

Perhaps he longs for lonelier mountains, even if he knows how cruel they can get - he had a close call on Kangchenjunga, were he got lost for two days. Nor will he feel the isolation on his next goal: Nanga Parbat. A record number of teams, most of all Spanish, are expected there this year.

Carlos Pauner was born in Jaca (Huesca, Spain) in 1964. Cho Oyu, summited in autumm 2004 was his fifth 8000+ peak on the 14’s list. Carlos has summited K2, Makalu, Kangchenjunga and GI. He has reached the summit ridge of Broad Peak and attempted Everest and Annapurna (south side).

Image of Carlos Pauner in BC courtesy of UPV Valencia expedition team.
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