This was the final challenge of the WOPeak initiative promoted by the Walk On Project Foundation, which is focused on the fight against neurodegenerative diseases and providing visibility for these pathologies. It was a challenge that began on the Gorbea in 2010, the first of eight stages.
And it was an expedition marked by the good acclimatisation of the rope team, the adverse weather conditions that prevented the three climbers from reaching their goal, and the rescue of the Italian Valerio Annovazzi who was trapped in camp 3 in conditions that would have led to certain death if it had not been for the intervention of the rope team. It was an expedition that was not without changes, as Alberto Iñurrategi tells us.
Another year without reaching the “summit”. An ambitious challenge.
Alberto Iñurrategi: The challenges that arise from leaving the normal routes multiply the chances of not achieving the objective. This time we returned with the benefit of the experience of last year and we were convinced that at least we could make a decent attempt of it. But the weather didn’t even allow that. There were no periods with blue skies that lasted longer than 24 hours.
How did you feel you handled the expedition?
A.I: We were looking for good acclimatisation in order to achieve the best possible performance on a route that we expected to be long. The weather, although it was not good at altitude, allowed us to acclimatise without problems, and during the three weeks that we dedicated to it we continued in the hope that the second fortnight of July would be good. Hope is the last thing that you lose, but even this has its limit.
The most difficult moment?
A.I: The most difficult moments have been related to the weather and the changes of plans, to the sacrifice of the initial idea due to the instability of the weather.
The rescue of Valerio Annovazzi was the other summit.
A.I: It was a case of acting on the instinct of ethical solidarity: today for you, tomorrow for me. It’s a very basic mountaineering principle.
Will there be a third expedition to complete the WOPeak project?
A.I: The Wopeak project has finished. We didn’t manage the eight-thousander, which was the last stage of the project, but a life was saved and that’s more important than anything else.
For this expedition, a sleeping bag was handcrafted in our facilities, with the aim of reducing weight and guaranteeing breathability. Did it meet expectations?
A.I: The days prior to the departure of the expedition saw intense activity in the Ternua new developments team, but the work was worth it, the sleeping bag met our expectations: it was lightweight, with sufficient insulation and frost resistant in the high altitude camps.