Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Qomolangma: Asalto al Everest, by Ricart de Mesones

I may be out of my league in my attempt to read Ricart de Mesones' Qomolangma. I've worked a job the past two years where the primary language spoken is Spanish, so this was a fun test to see what I've picked up. Apparently, I don't quite read as well as a nine-year-old, the recommended age group for this book, or more likely, most of the language I've heard from my coworkers is inappropriate for young audiences. I did get more than I thought I would out of this book, however.

Mesones wanted to organize a 1985 trip to Everest, but found out that the Chinese were closing the mountain for that year. He instead found his way onto a Catalan permit for a 1984 monsoon season expedition in exchange for raising some money and taking charge of the equipment. This was a fairly large group, and they worked on a bare-bones budget. They climb from the standard North Col-Northeast Ridge route, and after spending the majority of the summer acclimatizing, they quickly set up a series of camps and storm the mountain in the early days of August. The expedition manages to get two Spaniards and three Sherpas to the summit without the use of supplementary oxygen, who are then forced to bivouac high on the mountain during their descent as night and poor snow conditions hamper their progress. Miraculously, they all make it back down the mountain without a rescue operation. An amazing story!

Mesones perhaps isn't a student of Everest history, but he does have some interesting things to say about the Everest experience. He gets several historical details wrong in his introduction, such as the date of the first summit of Annapurna, mislabeling the Hornbein couloir, or that Tibetans call Everest Qomolanga (actually the Chinese transliteration of Chomolungma). I did find it interesting, though, to hear about their troubles cooking rice at base camp (because of the low boiling point of water) and also about the rainbow halo surrounding the author's shadow as the sun set while he was on the North Col. I think I overall missed many of the nuances of this book, but I think at least got the main ideas. It will be a long time before I read any adult books in Spanish! I hope you enjoy this one!

No comments:

Post a Comment