Spaniard Joan Cardona summited Everest from its north side on May 17, 2006. A member of the "Comarques Gironines" - a small, independent team from Catalunya, Spain - Joan summited after a fast push from the North Col, stopping for just four hours at 7900m. He made it back to ABC the same day.
An easy climb â compared to Kangchenjunga
Joan is an experienced climber: In addition to Cho Oyu and Shisha's summits, he has attempted several 8000ers, including Kangchenjunga, Makalu, and Everestâs Norton Couloir in 1996. Compared to these expeditions, Everest 's North Col route was a fast deal.
"My personal experience on Everest has been simply great," said Joan. "I felt strong, conditions were amazingly good, I had absolutely no problem during the summit push or descent. What else could I wish for?"
But when it comes to the bad events on Everest this season, Joan is upset that all Everest climbers are put to blame.
"I simply canât believe everybody refused to help"
"Talk is cheap - but some people should know better before criticizing everybody on Everest this spring," he told ExplorersWeb.
"I am talking about David Sharpâs case, of course. Iâve read ferocious criticism in the media blaming ALL climbers on the mountain â but it is extremely difficult to know exactly what happened. Even myself - I canât say what happened, since I went for the summit one day later, and didnât know of Sharp."
"I simply canât believe everybody refused to help David. Most people are not that mean. Moreover, people on Everest are no different from people in any place. Someone has an accident, and maybe someone else will pass by without stopping to help â but this is not the rule."
"On Everest just as anywhere else, there are good and bad people - and most are good. I am sure many people passing by David Sharp when he was sick didnât notice him, didnât know he was in trouble."
Talk is cheap, especially from home
"Moreover, it is easy to say he could have been rescued, he could have been saved. By whom, I wonder? Smaller teams would barely have been able to do anything. Only large groups with strong Sherpa support could have arranged a rescue, as was the case with Lincoln Hall."
"It's easy to criticize from the comfort of our houses and offices. Journalists happily denounce 'these selfish Everest climbers' for leaving David to die â when theyâve never been on a mountain, never found themselves in a similar situation."
"But things are not so easy at 8000m. Least of all on Everest, because the majority of climbers Iâve met there were far beyond their skills, endurance capacity, and experience."
Too many out of place on Everest
"I recall I met a girl crying below the Second Step. She didnât dare traverse an easy section, because there was a precipice on one side. All I could think was: What on Earth are you doing here, girl? You should have gone trekking â this is not a place for you." Do you really think that girl could have helped anyone? She couldnât even help herself!"
"For Godâs sake, there was a 15 year old boy willing to climb! He got sick lower down and was evacuated, but he could have died there so easily. It is utterly irresponsible."
Everest is not easy
"In my opinion, the blame lies mainly with the big commercial expeditions, who make inexperienced people think Everest is easy. Well, it is not. It demands skill, stamina, and wide experience in high altitude mountaineering!"
"There is a false idea of Everest being some sort of theme park, where everything is fixed for visitors, who only have to worry about having strong legs. Too many people think theyâll be perfectly safe as long as they pay a large enough amount of money. But it is not like that, as facts have proven. Most people dying on the mountain this year were not killed in an accident â they just died of exposure and exhaustion â they were simply not prepared."
Ban commercial teams
"I am sorry but thatâs how I see it: Things like this year wouldnât happen if the commercial, guided teams werenât allowed. You see this is only happening on Everest â you donât find those kind of people on other 8000ers."
"As a small team, we were all experienced, we trained hard, we knew each other well, and we all knew safety was our first priority. But most of all, we were self-sufficient. Otherwise, no one should attempt such a high peak."
We all made it back safely
"All I can say is, I had no trouble of any kind on my summit push. I saw two corpses on the way up â and I am sure they were both completely dead. If I had met someone in trouble, I would have stopped, and would have done my best to help - within my posibilities."
"As for my climbing mates, one of them twisted a shoulder on the way up and had to turn round. Team member Arnau attempted the summit later, on May 25, but while he was going up, our Sherpa thought we were done and retrieved everything from our Camp 3, so Arnau was forced to abort. It was bad luck, they had to turn round â but they made it back safely. None of us suffered frostbite or any altitude sickness."
Joan Cardona (46) is well-known in the Spanish outdoors community as a skilled long distance skier, marathon runner, and Ski-alpinist. An experienced climber, after several peaks in the Andes, the Alps and Himalaya, Joan attempted Kangchenjunga in 1986, Broad Peak in 1989, Makalu in 1991 (reached Makalu 2), Everestâs North face in 1996, Shisha Pangma in 2000, and Gasherbrum II in 2004. He has summited Cho Oyu on skis (1993) and Shisha Pangma main (2002).
In spring 2006, Cardona led the "Comarques Gironines" expedition on Everestâs North Col route, Tibet. Expedition members were Arnau Julia, Jordi Servosa, Rafel Fuentes, Lluis Julia, and Jordi Canyigueral. Joan was the only member who reached the summit on May 17.
#Mountaineering #Opinion #interview
Visit our new website